*Cleanzine_logo_2a.jpgCleanzine: your weekly cleaning and hygiene industry newsletter 23rd May 2024 Issue no. 1115

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Gold, frankincense and eughhh! Christmas shopping 'grotspots' revealed…

* Shopping-centre.jpgChristmas shopping could be a bacterial obstacle course for Brits this year, with shoppers touching surfaces with potentially high levels of microbial contamination (germs).

New figures, based on real-world swabbing tests, found that many of the hard-to-avoid things shoppers will touch could be harbouring 20 times more microbial contamination than a toilet seat.

The swab tests were conducted by experts at Initial Washroom Hygiene, using ATP* swabs and an ATP bioluminescence reader to detect levels of biological life not visible to the human eye.

The tests were conducted on some common touchpoints that shoppers and sightseers are likely to encounter on a typical Christmas outing, such as escalator handrails, the buttons on pedestrian crossings, cash machines and lift buttons.

The analysis found that nearly two fifths (37%) of the touchpoints swabbed gave a reading of over 500 units** - indicating a high level of contamination - and some even displayed readings of over 8,000 units. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the number of different people touching them, escalator handrails and pedestrian crossing buttons came out as the biggest hotspots for microbial contamination. Of them, eight in ten (80%) showed 'significantly elevated' surface readings, with some escalator handrails even found to have readings a whopping 20 times more than a typical toilet seat.

Christmas can be a particularly bad time when it comes to bacterial loads in high streets, shops and department stores, as they are busier than ever and full of people picking up multiple items when considering their gift purchases. With 80% of all infections transmitted through hands this can easily lead to the transmission of illnesses. The experts at Initial Washroom Hygiene recommend washing your hands regularly with soap and water, and following basic practices like covering your mouth when coughing in order to help reduce the transmission of seasonal illnesses.

"Touching things like cash machines and handrails is hard to avoid when out and about, especially on a festive outing,” admits Jamie Woodhall, UK technical & innovations manager at Initial Washroom Hygiene. “But with so many different hands coming into contact with these surfaces on a daily basis, they can easily accumulate high levels of contamination.

"Therefore, it's more important than ever for businesses and public authorities to provide adequate handwashing facilities, as regular handwashing is a simple and effective way of helping to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses. In their absence, carrying a small bottle of hand sanitiser in your bag or pocket is a good idea, and means you can keep your hands sanitised while on the move."

Touchpoints (average + high counts recorded)

1. Escalator handrails (average 4,412/high 8,186)
2. Pedestrian crossing buttons (average 3,185/high 8,157)
3. Cash machine (average 293/high 606)
4. Lift button (average 240/high 492)
**The ATP reading scale of object used by our hygiene experts:
> 500 units (indicates a high level of biological contamination)
= 200-500 units (is considered to be within a normal range)
< 200 units (indicates a low level of biological contamination)

* ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is a molecule found in and around living cells.

About The Research:
Detailed surface samples were taken from 56 high-frequency touchpoints across four separate sites within central London in October and November 2023.

Toilet seat samples taken in 2012 from Initial Washroom Hygiene swabbing study, finding an average of 220 units.

Samples were taken using sterile surface swabs and a rapid ATP analysis was undertaken on each sample to establish the level of microbial-related contamination on the surface of the items. The units are expressed as Relative Light Units by this method, with a higher ATP reading suggesting a greater level of bacterial contamination. This technique is widely used to assess the cleanliness of surfaces before and after undertaking cleaning in hospitals and other premises.

Initial Washroom Hygiene is a global leader in hygiene services operating in over 45 countries across the world including the major economies of Europe, North America, Asia Pacific and Africa. It provides innovative and environmentally responsible washroom services solutions to large and small organisations across a range of business sectors including public administrations and schools, food and drink manufacturing, hospitality and leisure, medical and paramedical, construction, retail, services, and transportation.

The range of Initial Washroom Hygiene's services and supplies includes:
* Handwashing and drying products and services
* Feminine hygiene disposal units and services
* Products for washroom, urinal and toilet hygiene and cleaning


14th December 2023

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