Legal Articles

June 12, 2013

U.S. has lack of proper hand washing, new study finds

How well do you wash your hands? Maybe not as well as you think, according to a new study just published in The Journal of Environmental Health. Researchers looked at the hand washing practices of 3,749 people and found that after using the public toilet, “10.3 percent did not wash their hands at all, and 22.8 percent used no soap.” However, of those who did use soap, “only 5.3 percent washed for longer than 15 seconds.”

Proper hand washing explained

What is proper hand washing? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines it as “rubbing vigorously with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.” Of the people studied, 40 percent were men, and researchers found that their hand washing was more lax than the women. Only 7.1 percent of women abstained from washing, compared to 15 percent of men.

Lax hand washing influences public health

The study found that hand washing was more likely when the bathroom contained motion-detection faucets, signs encouraging washing, and clean sinks. This trend of subpar hand sanitation is worrisome because, according to lead author Carl Borchgrevink, “Forty-eight million people a year get sick from contaminated food and the C.D.C. says 50 percent would not have gotten sick if people had washed their hands properly.” The moral of the story? Take an extra 20 seconds next time before you leave the bathroom. Your immune system will thank you.


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