People have known for some time that hospitals are a not-so-great place to catch germs. There’s a lot of them floating around in there, and lots of traffic in and out. Infections are a constant risk. A new study identifies elevator buttons as a germy thing to avoid.
The research, conducted by three physicians, compared the amounts of bacteria living on 120 elevator buttons and 96 toilet surfaces at three hospitals in Toronto, Ontario.
To find out just how the dirty hospital surfaces were, the researchers acted like Holmesian microbe hunters, swabbing elevator buttons, and the handles of bathrooms stalls and toilet flushers.
A lab technician—blinded to the source of the samples and purpose of the study—then examined them.
The results will surely lift elevator buttons to the same ick-factor status as waiting-room magazines or hotel TV remote-controls: the elevator buttons were much dirtier than the toilet surfaces. “The prevalence of colonization (with bacteria) of elevator buttons was 61 percent,” the study reads. On the toilets, it was 43 percent.