PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (CBS Tampa) - A new study found that one tenth of all credit cards are covered in bacteria, including E. coli and fecal organisms.
Researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Topical Medicine researched contamination levels on credit cards, hands and currency throughout the United Kingdom, according to a press release posted on the University of London website.
“The study … found that more than a quarter of hands sampled … showed traces of fecal contamination including bacteria such as E. coli,” the release noted. “More significantly, out of the samples taken, 11 percent of hands, eight percent of cards and six percent of [paper and coin currency] showed gross contamination – where the levels of bacteria detected were equal to that you would expect to find in a dirty toilet bowl.”
It’s a problem that could affect a significant portion of Americans as well – according to CreditCards.com, located in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., approximately 176.8 million people owned credit cards four years ago in the United States. Those numbers have reportedly climbed significantly over time.
The study also revealed troublesome facts about the hygiene habits of everyday people.
“Our analysis revealed that by handling cards and money each day we are coming into contact with some potential pathogens revealing fecal contamination including E. Coli and Staphylococci,” Dr. Ron Cutler, who reportedly led the research at Queen Mary, was quoted as saying. “People [also] may tell us they wash their hands but the research shows us different, and highlights just how easily transferable these pathogens – surviving on our money and cards.”
“We hope that on Global Handwashing Day, people take the time to think about washing their hands with soap and make it a routine part of their daily lives,” Dr. Val Curtis, also of the London School of Hygiene & Topical Medicine and a driving force behind Global Handwashing Day, additionally noted.