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Meet the Germs in Your Local Public Restroom

Even shortly after it's cleaned
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Nov 30, 2014 11:00 AM CST

(Newser) – Warning: Some readers may find the following information disturbing ... or at least pretty gross. Researchers studying public restrooms found that just an hour after bathrooms were sterilized with bleach solution, they were once again packed with various microbes, NPR reports. In a study over the course of a few months, researchers found 77,000 different kinds of bacteria and viruses. And the most common ones, amounting to 45% of the microbes, were bacteria from feces. They popped up on toilet seats and around soap dispensers. Other unpleasant finds included traces of HPV and herpes viruses, as well as some genes from MRSA bacteria, which can cause serious illness.

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Meanwhile, in a separate study, researchers in Britain found that, perhaps surprisingly, air hand-dryers actually had more germs around them than paper towel dispensers did. The worst offenders were the high-powered driers, whose local bacteria count was 27 times that of paper towel dispensers, CBS News reports. Still, an expert tells NPR we shouldn't panic; in fact, we should perhaps celebrate. "All human environments contain pathogens—your bedroom, the phone you're talking on, even the bugs inside of you could turn pathogenic at any time," he notes. "But we desperately need them in our lives." Indeed, they can actually help fend off disease, experts say. (Read more germs stories.)

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