4 Unexpected Places Germs Are Hiding


Watch your feet!

Some bacteria are good for us, some harmful. A study conducted at the University of Arizona examined germs on shoes and found an average of 421,000 bacteria on the outside of shoes, with nine different strains of bacteria. Some of the harmful strains found on shoes included Escherichia coli, otherwise known as E coli, which can give you intestinal infections, diarrhea and in rare cases, meningitis; Klebsiella pneumoniae, which can cause urinary tract infections; and Serratia ficaria, which can cause respiratory infections.


Smart phones aren’t any better…

A  2013 project at the University of Surrey  perfectly illustrates the situation.

A 2013 project at the University of Surrey perfectly illustrates the situation.

Your smartphone is home to your photos, music, contacts, productivity apps and odds are at least one game featuring a bird, zombie, fruit or farm. Oh, and there's something else on your smartphone, too — loads of fecal coliforms. Joining the coliforms are Streptococcus, Most people don’t give a second thought to using their cell phone everywhere, from their morning commute to the dinner table to the doctor’s office. But research shows that cell phones are far dirtier than most people think, and the more germs they collect, the more germs you touch.

In fact, your own hand is the biggest culprit when it comes to putting filth on your phone. Americans check their phones about 47 times per day, according to a survey by Deloitte, which affords plenty of opportunities for microorganisms to move from your fingers to your phone.

“Because people are always carrying their cell phones even in situations where they would normally wash their hands before doing anything, cell phones do tend to get pretty gross,” says Emily Martin, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Research has varied on just how many germs are crawling on the average cell phone, but a recent study found more than 17,000 bacterial gene copies on the phones of high school students. Scientists at the University of Arizona have found that cell phones carry 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats.



When you think about germ-ridden spots in your home, places like the bathroom or the kitchen might come to mind. Yet one major dirt-collecting culprit is actually lurking in your TV room.

That's right—your remote control is probably a major germ hub. Your channel changer most likely comes into contact with several different hands in one day. The remote falls on the floor, bounces around the couch, and collects dust behind your TV. Add to that the fact that, if you eat in front of the TV, you're touching the remote with your dirty, sticky hands. Upping the ick factor even more, consider that your remote has probably been sneezed on, touched with semi-clean hands, stepped on...you get the picture.While likely cleaner than a public toilet seat, remotes still boast a bit more bacteria than some home-throne estimates with 70 present per square inch.



Kitchen sponges have been picked out as bacterial strongholds for quite a while, though that hasn’t stopped new studies from surfacing. Each fresh revelation of microbial infestation spawns a new round of horrified media coverage, as every study seems to add to the list of potentially deadly diseases lurking in our households. The latest insights come from a team of researchers in Germany who use genetic sequencing to compile the most comprehensive list of sponge bacteria to date.

The results aren’t surprising, but they are illustrative of just how tenacious household bacteria are. Looking at 14 different used kitchen sponges, the researchers found up to 54 billion bacteria per cubic centimeter, spanning 118 genera. Many of these pose no harm to humans, it should be said, but among the species the researchers also found varieties of E. coli, Klebsiella, Staphylococcus, Salmonella and others implicated in food-borne illnesses. They found that the bacteria appear most often on the surface and visible cavities of the sponge, and their analysis indicated rapid growth.

douglas schwartz