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Occurrence of bacteria and biochemical markers on public surfaces.

From 1999 – 2003, the hygiene of 1,061 environmental surfaces from shopping, daycare, and office environments, personal items, and miscellaneous activities (i.e., gymnasiums, airports, movie theaters, restaurants, etc.), in four US cities, was monitored. Samples were analyzed for fecal and total coliform bacteria, protein, and biochemical markers. Biochemical markers, i.e., hemoglobin (blood marker), amylase (mucus, saliva, sweat, and urine marker), and urea (urine and sweat marker) were detected on 3%, 15% and 6% of the surfaces, respectively. Protein (general hygiene marker) was present on 26% of surfaces. Surfaces from children&;s playground equipment and daycare centers were the most frequently contaminated. Half and one-third of the sites positive for biochemical markers were also positive for total and fecal coliforms, respectively. Artificial contamination of public surfaces with an invisible fluorescent tracer showed that contamination from outside surfaces was transferred to 86% of exposed individual&;s hands and 82% tracked the tracer to their home or personal belongings hours later. Results provide information on the relative hygiene of commonly encountered public surfaces and aid in the identification of priority environments where contaminant occurrence and risk of exposure may be greatest. International Journal of Environmental Health Research2005;15: 225-234.

Author: KA, Watt PM, Boone SA, Gerba CP

Published: 01/01/2005

Publication Type: Journal article

Publisher: International Journal of Environmental Health Research