WE usually try to avoid them and now there’s proof it’s with good reason.
A Public Defender investigation has found public toilets are a hotbed of germs.
But it’s not the toilet seat that’s the biggest worry – the true threat is filthy buttons and door handles.
Of 15 public toilets surveyed across Melbourne, 11 had contact surfaces dirtier than the loo.
A Port Melbourne toilet recorded the worst hand surface reading with a contamination count of 47,921 from a swab of the flush button, cubicle lock and toilet paper dispenser – almost 90 times more than the seat.
A reading of 1-500 is considered acceptable.
Buttons and rails at a Footscray automated toilet were also through the roof, registering 23,831 compared with 1155 for the toilet. But a St Kilda toilet proved seats still pose a hygiene headache, recording a whopping 74,724.
Bio-Clean director Peter Guerin, who conducted the tests, said no public toilet would be as clean as one at home but many appeared neglected.
“Some of those readings were off the Richter scale,” Mr Guerin said. “They are not cleaned often enough and when they are cleaned, they are not cleaned properly.
“Elderly people or those with weak immune systems could really get sick out of some of these toilets.”
University of Melbourne microbiology and immunology senior lecturer Cheryl Power said skin bacteria like staphylococcus and gut bacteria including E coli were among bugs likely to be present.
“The results show that we should always wash our hands after using the toilet, especially if it is a public toilet and you are eating or drinking in that public space, be it a park or a shopping mall,” Ms Power said.
“It is so easy, especially with alcoholic hand gels, to protect yourself and your family, especially children.”
Port Phillip Mayor Rachel Powning, whose municipality recorded the two worst results, said toilets were cleaned regularly to strict standards.
“Cleaning is maximised at peak use times, additional services are provided when problems occur and regular inspections are undertaken,” she said.
“But cleanliness will clearly vary according to the time of testing, the way the tests are conducted and the most recent activity at the facility.”
Maribyrnong Council general manager infrastructure and engineering Ian Butterworth said the Footscray toilet and all others were cleaned daily by contractors.
“Council has an ongoing commitment to maintaining and improving public toilets in the city,” Mr Butterworth said.
Article Source Herald Sun