lavatory sinks in a public restroom

A recent study revealed that fixtures designed to help clean hands are actually spreading bacteria instead.

According to a Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control study, visitors to public restrooms expect handwashing fixtures — faucets, soap and towel dispensers and hand dryers — to be clean and hygienic. However, these surfaces are potential sites for the transmission of pathogenic bacteria.

They study reviewed 55 public restrooms ranging in category from low-class communities to high-end establishments. Results of testing revealed that high- and middle-income category restrooms generally had cleaner surfaces then those in low categories. In fact, 52 bacterial species were identified from the 55 investigated washrooms. Over 97l percent of the pathogenic Staphylococcus spp. tested were resistant to at least one first-line antimicrobial therapeutic agent, including penicillin, cefoxitin, erythromycin, co-trimoxazole, clindamycin and gentamicin. Finally, 22.6 percent demonstrated co-resistance to at least three antimicrobial agents, with co-resistance to penicillin, erythromycin and clindamycin being the most common.

An earlier study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology also assessed the microbes present in public restrooms. Scientists actually discovered genetic traces of more than 77,000 distinct types of bacteria and viruses in these spaces.

A list of 77,000 bacteria and viruses is hard for a facility cleaning manager to comprehend. It’s easier to accept the more prevalent contaminants found in a restroom: fecal bacteria, influenza, streptococcus, E. coli, hepatitis, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), salmonella, shigella and norovirus.