Hospital Elevator Buttons Dirtier Than Toilets, Study Says

There are lots of things you wouldn’t expect to be dirtier than a toiletóbut everything from†dollar bills to ice at fast food restaurants make that list, harboring alarming levels of bacteria.

Another unfortunate addition to the list? Hospital elevator buttons, a new study says. Researchers swabbed 120 elevator buttons and 96 toilet surfaces in three hospitals. Their findings, published in the Open Medicine journal,†might inspire you to put on a pair of medical gloves before hitting any elevator buttons. 61 percent of elevator buttons were colonized with bacteria, compared to 43 percent on toilet surfaces.

The good news? Most of the bugs found were harmless. But the risk is still there, study author Dr. Donald Redelmeier tells the Vancouver Sun. “They’re active really every moment of the day and they’re touched by multiple people and it’s almost always with ungloved hands,” he says, adding “They can’t be cleaned again and again and again, every second of the day. Once they’re clean, they don’t stay clean very long.”

Elevator buttons aren’t the only places you’ll find bacteria lurkingóprevious studies have found bacterial contamination on everything from lab coats and stethoscopes to computer keyboards and digital tablets where employees track patient data.

One thing you can do to keep your risk of transmitting bacteria down on any elevator? Make sure you’re washing your fingertips, especially the pointer finger on your dominant hand. “Often when people use a hand cleanser, they’re very good at washing their palms, but not their fingertips,” Dr. Redelmeier explains. “And yet most of the transmission does not occur in the middle of the hand, it occurs at the periphery of the hand.”

 

86 comments

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe1 years ago

I think I will let someone else on the elevator push my button for me (LOL)!!

Panchali Yapa
Panchali Yapa1 years ago

Thank you

D D.
Dolores D.2 years ago

This is really no surprise....

Dale O.

This news did not surprise me. Colin H has a good idea, it wouldn't hurt.

Charmaine C.
Charmaine C.2 years ago

Yeah! You and me both Colin H!

Anne G.
Anne G.2 years ago

Not surprised, thanks for the info.

Colin Hope
Colin Hope2 years ago

Oh, Wow!! From now on I'll press ALL elevator and lavatory buttons through my sleeve with my elbow!!

Anna Wang
Anna Meng Wang2 years ago

Not surprising.

Nancy Gizuk
Nancy Gizuk2 years ago

Okay. I am now officially oogied out.

Debra G.
Debra G.2 years ago

An article designed to excite panic in anyone with OCD. Common sense, people!