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Door handles: a danger of infection

One door handle can infect pretty much everyone who walks into a building within a matter of hours. That’s according to microbiologist, Dr. Charles Gerba from the University of Arizona.

His team tested this by placing a harmless virus on the door of a building’s entrance, and Dr. Gerba found that swab tests showed that 60% of people had the virus on their hands within a few hours.

The office in question had 80 employees and 3 entrances – so not everyone came in through the infected door. Nevertheless, within four hours it ended up on the majority of people’s hands.

Within 2 hours, the virus had contaminated the break room – and the coffee station was the first thing to get contaminated there.

After that, it spread to restrooms, then individual offices and cubicles. Dr. Gerba and his team also tried another experiment and gave the virus to one employee. The same thing happened – more than half of the building’s employees were contaminated within 4 hours.

Those results even surprised Dr. Gerba – because most of the employees didn’t come into direct contact with each other. They were simply touching common surfaces. But because the average adult touches their nose, mouth or eyes about 16 times an hour – it’s easy for one contaminated surface to spread illness.

Plus, viruses can live on surfaces like light switches for up to 4 days! Dr. Gerba says germophobes shouldn’t freak out. Just because we touch a contaminated surface doesn’t mean we’re going to get sick. The good news is, in these experiments, when half the office’s employees were given disinfectant wipes to use, the amount of contamination was slashed by nearly 70%. Hand washing reduced it even more.

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