Petrol pumps teeming with germs

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We (well, most of us) take great care to avoid coming into contact with potentially harmful bacteria, whether it be by meticulously washing our hands after the loo, or avoiding the petri dish of urine that is the shared bowl of nuts at the bar. However, we may be unwittingly exposing ourselves to germs every time we fill up our cars.

New research by Kimberly-Clark Professional has revealed that fuel pumps are the filthiest thing we touch in our everyday lives, with 71 per cent of pump handles being "highly contaminated" with germs known to cause illness in humans.

This means that filling stations rank ahead of mail boxes and escalator rails for contamination, with those coming in at 68 per cent and 43 per cent respectively.

Other high-risk places not usually considered to be particularly unhygienic include buttons on vending machines and pedestrian crossings, as well as parking meters and payment machines.

To conduct its study, Kimberly-Clark hygienists swabbed suspected hotspots in public places, and forwarded samples to the University of Arizona for analysis.

According to the LA Times, project leader Dr Charles Gerba – nicknamed 'Dr Germ' – advises regular hand washing and wiping down regularly touched surfaces such as keyboards and telephones with a disinfectant, to minimise the risk of illness, which is estimated to cost businesses around $1,320 (£863) per employee per year.

Are you concerned that items we touch every day are teeming with germs? Should we bother to make sure everything is thoroughly disinfected before use? Have your say in the comments section below.