There are millions of microscopic creatures at your fingertips – and trillions of microbes living within us.
“Germs are good,” said Dirk Cristle, a driver who was pumping gas outside a Memphis gas station. “It’s either going to build you or you’re going to get sick.”
But what are the germiest services in our everyday lives?
FOX13 used a luminometer to test commonly touched surfaces and objects: A cell phone, wallet, purse, toilet seat, bathroom sink, bathroom handle, ATM machine, money, gas pump, and shopping cart.
A luminometer measures ATP or adenosine triphosphate.
The device displays a number, which represents the relative light units on a surface, or RLU. It shows how ‘germy’ a surface might be.
“We can actually look to see how much grime, dirt, biofilm, or bacteria exists on a surface,” explained Rob Kabel, the CEO of PURTEQ, a cleaning product supplier based in Memphis.
PURTEQ manufactures non-toxic cleaners, which disinfect natural minerals like thyme and citric acid.
The EPA-certified products also use probiotics, but never bleach or harsh chemicals.
“Some disinfectants are very caustic and dangerous, if not used properly,” Kabel explained.
FOX13 used the luminometer under Kabel’s supervision to properly test the surfaces.
Everyone had a different prediction as to what surface would have the most germs.
“The shopping cart,” predicted Charlie Leaks as he shopped in East Memphis.
“Definitely gas pumps,” said Buddy Hardison, another shopper.”
Here is how every surface ranked, from germiest to least germy:
How dangerous are these germs?
The good news is – everyday germs aren’t that dangerous for a person with a healthy immune system.
“Our immune system, thankfully, is an incredible machine that can really take out a lot of invaders very efficiently,” said Dr. Steve Threlkeld, an infectious disease specialist at Baptist Memorial Hospital.
Instead of hoarding disinfectants and sanitizing everything in sight, Dr. Threlkeld recommends washing your hands and avoiding touching your nose or mouth.
He said you’re much more likely to get sick from hugging or shaking hands with a sick person.
“Generally speaking, common sense should rule,” Dr. Threlkeld explained. “For the average normal, relatively healthy person, most of the bacteria on the surfaces around us are not going to be a major danger to you.”
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