Almost a third of all commuters’ hands are contaminated with faecal bacteria, a study has shown.
A team from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine swabbed the hands of 409 commuters at bus stops next to train stations in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Cardiff and Newcastle.
They found that 28 per cent contained faecal bacteria, mostly Enterococcus and E-Coli. Female contamination rates were similar at different sites, but males tended to be more contaminated the further north they lived.
The dirtiest hands belonged to Newcastle men, 53 per cent of whom harboured bacteria, the preliminary study reports.
Higher contamination rates were associated with bus rather than train travel. Surprisingly, manual workers were less likely to have faecal contamination than professionals, students, retired or unemployed people.
‘We were surprised by the very high rates of detection of bacteria of faecal origin on hands,’ the authors note, adding that although not a health hazard in itself, contamination suggests a ‘failure of hygiene.’