Is Your ATM a Bacterial Bomb?

Might want to carry your Purell to the ATM from now on. A new study finds that the numeric keypads on London ATMs are as bacteria-contaminated as the seats of public restrooms. “We were interested in comparing the levels of bacterial contamination between heavily-used ATM machines and public lavatories,” said Dr. Richard Hastings, who spearheaded the experiment. “We were surprised by our results because the ATM machines were shown to be heavily contaminated with bacteria; to the same level as nearby public lavatories. In addition the bacteria we detected on ATMs were similar to those from the toilet, which are well known as causes of common human illnesses.” (HT: Collin Campbell) [%comments]


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  1. Nylund says:

    Here is one report from ABC’s 20/20 showing the toilet seat to be one of the cleanest parts of a public restroom.

    Mythbusters also compared items and found toilet seats to be relatively clean. Cleaner than your average cell phone, hotel remote control, light switch, and shopping cart.

    In light of that, I’d say this means that an ATM is actually relatively clean.

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  2. Robin says:

    I’ve seen many scientific experiments that show toilet seats to be one of the cleaner things you can touch in a public place.

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  3. Michael Vukovich says:

    You could line the numeric keys with an antibacterial lining to prevent bacterial colonization.

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  4. Drill-Baby-Drill drill Team says:

    Toilet seats are cleaner than people think. We should all have dinner served on such virtuous pottery.

    Fonts of bacterial and viral contamination are on everything else that you don’t suspect. It is hidden in plain view.

    High bacterial counts are cultured from ATM pads, computer keyboards, telephone pads and handsets, doorknobs, elevator buttons, shared pens and pencils, handles and straps on mass transit, and doorhandles. Also babies and toddlers especially at daycare centers–this is the equivalent of Club Med for Bacteria.

    If you have to buy street food, buy from a WOMAN instead of a man. Women wash their hands after using the toilet 85% of the time. Men less than 65%.

    Germs are everywhere, just WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN. Lady MacBeth wasn’t crazy, she was right.

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  5. Tristan says:

    This study is really misleading, in that what it should be focusing on is people’s perception of what’s “dirty” and “clean” and not on ATMs. The major flaw was only collecting samples from two areas (ATMs and public toilets) and then comparing this data against people’s perception of a wide range of public places. There’s basically no control in the test, it’s just two points of data that are basically the same.

    While they were out swabbing they should have grabbed samples from some other areas, like: doorknobs, buses/subways, paper currency, etc. The point is that public toilets and ATMs aren’t dirty and everything else is clean, but that pretty much every public spot that anyone touches with their bare hands is covered in bacteria.

    In fact, I’ve seen similiar tests that found the level of bacteria in most home kitchens is way above what’s found in a typical bathroom.

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  6. Jake says:

    It seems like everything is as dirty as a toilet seat. It might be easier to do a little re-framing: “New study finds that toilet seats are as clean as ATM keypads.” Excellent.

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  7. Erik says:

    BUT DOES IT MATTER?!?!?!?!

    Who cares how many bacteria there are? What matters is if they’re going to make you sick, and whether reducing their numbers would make a difference. And of course, that was not tested.

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  8. John says:

    So….what TYPE of bacteria are we talking about? Somehow I think the bacteria on a public toilet seat would be a more harmful bacteria, regardless of the count.
    Interesting concept, though. You got me to read it, got me to think, and got me to talk. THANKS!! =)

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