Public Restroom the Dirtiest Place? Think Again!

Think that public restrooms are the dirtiest place? Not so, according to scientists from the International Journal of Environmental Health Research.

After collecting 1,100 samples at public places like airports, offices, and bathrooms, they found that the dirtiest place are:

The most frequently contaminated areas were playgrounds and day care centers, with 46 percent showing high levels of contamination. Public restroom surfaces ranked far behind, at 25 percent, just ahead of public transportation handrails and armrests (in buses, for example) and shopping cart handles (about 21 percent each). Not far behind that were escalator handrails (19 percent), vending machine buttons (14 percent) and public phones (13 percent).


See also: Fast Food Restaurants Ice Worse Than Their Toilet Water

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The avoidance of a public bathroom encounter is ever impossible for Americans today. Work, school, and recreational activities call for a quick and sanitary place for relief away from home, and these tiled nooks are often the only option. The public bathroom thrives with awkward situations and inextricable urgency.

The gaudily tiled, stall-filled rooms are filled with opportunities for uncomfortable encounters on the way to the porcelain throne. Public bathrooms provide the chance to know a wealth of superfluous information about anyone, including complete strangers. There is no better way to predict when your female co-worker will yell at you seemingly unprovoked than to notice the week she compulsively pumps the tampon machine with quarters.

Most people seem to enter a bathroom with stubborn and obvious motivation to get out as soon as possible. Public bathroom guests seem to universally believe that finishing business and bee lining out the door with little to no eye contact and no intention to slow down will make the bathroom experience less uncomfortable. But rushing only contributes to the problem by exacerbating the reasons people feel wearisome going in the first place. People in a hurry often come off as rude, and there is nothing more inconsiderate than running by someone while shaking water off your hands as you soak the door handle on your way out. The urgency in the lavatory is uncalled for because it does not make one cleaner, and might in fact compromise sanitation. Yet the seemingly universal restroom race against time is an integral characteristic of the typical public restroom.

One might rush through the tacit rules of public restrooms, thinking potty breaks waste time, but a bathroom visit is necessary once in a while. I would ask those in disagreement to save their precious two minutes and go the whole day without relieving themselves. There is not as productive a day as one with a painfully bursting bladder to remind you of your astute time management.
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