Testing Reveals High Contamination Levels of Everyday Objects in Major U.S. Cities; Gas Pump and Mailbox Handles are Among the Dirtiest
Kimberly-Clark Professional* Findings Also Show People Encounter Armies of Germs Just Getting to Work Each Day; Results Reinforce Importance of Proper Hand and Surface Hygiene as Critical to a Healthy Workplace
ROSWELL, Ga., Oct. 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Just in time for cold and flu season, new testing in six major U.S. cities reveals that gas pump and mailbox handles may be among the dirtiest surfaces Americans touch. The results, released today by Kimberly-Clark Professional*, show that more than 60 percent of gas pump and mailbox handles and more than 40 percent of escalator rails and ATM machine buttons can be highly contaminated, potentially exposing people to illness-causing bacteria. Illness in the workplace is not just a health issue, but can also have a major economic impact. Each year companies lose $1,685 per employee due to absenteeism and presenteeism (employees coming to work while sick).(1)
The testing was conducted by trained hygienists in high traffic locations in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami and Philadelphia. Using a Hygiena SystemSURE II™ ATP Meter, a device commonly used to monitor sanitary conditions in industry, hygienists swabbed the objects to measure levels of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). ATP is present in all animal, vegetable, bacteria, yeast and mold cells. Detection of ATP indicates the presence of contamination by any of these sources. Everyday objects with an ATP reading of 300 or higher are considered to have a high risk for illness transmission. In all, more than 350 separate swabs were taken and analyzed.
The percentage of public surfaces tested and found to have high levels of contamination (an ATP count of 300 or higher), includes:
71 percent of Gas Pump Handles
68 percent of Mailbox Handles
43 percent of Escalator Rails
41 percent of ATM Buttons
40 percent of Parking Meters/Kiosks
35 percent of Crosswalk Buttons
35 percent of Vending Machine Buttons
"People do not realize the amount of contamination they are exposed to going to work each day and doing everyday things like filling their gas tank or riding on an escalator," said Dr. Charles Gerba, Professor of Microbiology at the University of Arizona. "This new testing is compelling because it underscores the importance of hand and surface hygiene. Most cold and flu viruses are spread because people touch surfaces in their immediate area and then touch their faces, other objects and other people. Washing and drying your hands frequently throughout the day, can help prevent your risk of getting sick or spreading illness around the office."
"The likelihood for illnesses to transfer from the objects that people use every day like ATMs and parking meters is eye-opening," said Brad Reynolds, North American Platform Leader, The Healthy Workplace Project*, Kimberly-Clark Professional. "These findings indicate that illness-causing germs are everywhere and have the potential to travel with you into your office space. That's why we developed The Healthy Workplace Project – a unique approach to hand and surface hygiene that helps employees understand and reduce the spread of cold and flu germs throughout their workplaces."
The Healthy Workplace Project is a new, multi-faceted program that Kimberly-Clark Professional has designed to help companies provide their employees with a healthier and more productive office environment. The program provides educational materials in conjunction with hand and surface hygiene products to employees, arming them with the tools and knowledge necessary to break the cycle of germ transmission in the office. By reinforcing the importance of "washing, wiping and sanitizing" through The Healthy Workplace Project, employers can help reduce that impact.
Kimberly-Clark Professional is dedicated to providing essential solutions for a healthier, safer and more productive workplace. These include a unique portfolio of innovative, cost-effective and sustainable offerings for office buildings and lodging properties, healthcare facilities, manufacturing environments, laboratories and cleanrooms, educational facilities, food preparation and processing operations, and home professionals. Kimberly-Clark Professional offers a comprehensive array of hand hygiene and contamination control solutions to break the germ transmission chain and help create a healthier workplace as well as wiping and safety solutions that minimize risk and drive productivity. Its trusted global brands include Kleenex, Scott, Wypall, Kimtech and Jackson Safety. Located in Roswell, Ga., Kimberly-Clark Professional is one of Kimberly-Clark Corporation's four business sectors. For more information, visit www.kcprofessional.com.
Kimberly-Clark and its well-known global brands are an indispensable part of life for people in more than 150 countries. Every day, 1.3 billion people - nearly a quarter of the world's population - trust K-C brands and the solutions they provide to enhance their health, hygiene and well-being. With brands such as Kleenex, Scott, Huggies, Pull-Ups, Kotex and Depend, Kimberly-Clark holds No. 1 or No. 2 share positions in more than 80 countries. To keep up with the latest K-C news and to learn more about the company's 139-year history of innovation, visit www.kimberly-clark.com.
(1) Stewart, W.F., Ricci, J. A., Chee, E., Morganstein, D.(2003). Lost productive work time costs from health conditions in the United States: results from the American Productivity Audit. J Occup Environ Med 45.12 1234-46.