Beware of the Faucet!
Theoretically, hands-free faucets should stay cleaner than traditional manual faucets. Recent studies by researchers at The John Hopkins University School of Medicine may surprise you! Electronic faucets may be hosting germs that are lurking in your bathroom!
Simple logic would lead you to believe that a faucet which comes into contact with countless individuals on a daily basis would be less hygienic than others that are non-touch. Right…? Take advice from this case study of 20 electronic faucets and 20 manual faucets. Both samples received water from the same source to control the variable in question. Researchers studied these samples to find some eye-raising results!
When all of the testing was complete, data showed that electronic faucets carried more bacteria than manual faucets! In fact, 50% of automatic samples grew legionella spp, while only 15% of manual samples revealed contamination.
Legionella spp is a species of pathogenic bacterium that causes Legionaires’ disease. This disease has been linked to high fever, muscle aches, and shortness of breath. 26% of automatic’s tested positive for heterotrophic plate count (HPC); more than twice the rate of manual samples! HPC is a measure of overall bacteria population and provides valuable information about water quality.
Researchers concluded that empirical evidence shows that non-touch faucets have higher levels of bacterial contamination than traditional manual faucets. Understanding these results may be difficult to explain so I’ll leave it to the experts to articulate their findings!
The study’s presenting author Emily Syndor, M.D. commented, “We suspect that all of these parts are servicing as sort of an area that traps the bacteria and then they can grow and multiply and form sort of colonies, or biofilms, on these parts that then seep into and feed into the water supply.”
In short, automatic faucets have additional internal parts that create ideal environments for bacteria to grow! Makes me cringe!
What Does This Mean for Me?
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold on before you grab your decontamination suit and start ripping out all of your electronic faucets! While John Hopkins removed all of their non-touch faucets, researchers say that most people do not need to avoid these faucets because continued high exposure is necessary to see any real effects.
Individuals who would be at risk of health complications would include the chronically ill or immune-compromised patients who use these faucets regularly. Be sure to take these tips into mind when rinsing your hands in large public facilities! Follow correct hand-washing guidelines and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds every time!
Check out this article on Squidsoap to learn about a new product that promotes personal hygiene in fun new ways for your kids!
About This Post
Cheryl Khan is a freelancer and interior designer. Some call her a germaphobe but she just believes that you can never be too sure!