Germs on the ATM keypad and British study on public toilets


That ATM could have nearly as much bacteria as a public toilet. Image: Flickr / MoneyBlogNewz / CC-BY

It’s well known that public places are breeding grounds for germs. A new group found that an ATM keypad, according to a British study, is as dirty as a public toilet. While it was funded by an antibacterial surface maker, this study is still giving many people the creepy-crawlies.

ATM keypad considered by British study

British researchers conducted a study on the bacterial load of several common public surfaces. They swabbed and grew samples from ATM keypads, under the seat of public toilets, gas pump handles and grocery carts. The samples were sealed in a sterile bag, then grown in a petri dish. All four swabs did grow some bacteria, including e. coli and coliform. The public toilet samples grew the highest bacterial load, though they contained much the same bacteria as every other sample. ATM keypads were a very close second to the public toilets in bacterial load.

Considering the ATM keypad / British study of public toilets

The study of ATM keypads and public toilets did not reveal any particularly new information. The study was, however, funded by the makers of antibacterial surface coatings. Where funding for studies come from is a consistent issue within the scientific community. Though the use of this study to sell antibacterial products is relatively transparent, it does not completely invalidate the results.

Protecting yourself from bacteria

Though this study is being argued as a reason to buy more antibacterial surface coatings, there are other ways to protect yourself. Standard hand washing is as effective in protecting yourself from bacteria as any antibacterial product. Antibacterial products have actually been shown to have almost no effect on the infections and diseases of individuals. Keep your hands washed, use antibacterial products rarely, and take reasonable precautions to protect yourself. This way ATM keypads and public toilets will not be any more dangerous than any other public space.



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