Are Gas Pumps The Dirtiest Thing That You Touch?

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Are gas pumps one of the dirtiest (contaminated with known pathogens) things that you can touch? Apparently so, based on the findings of a new study performed by Kimberly-Clark professionals while investigating “germ hot spots” as a component of the company’s Healthy Workplace Project.

While you probably won’t have too much trouble convincing most people that gas stations are filthy, the findings are still interesting, if unsurprising. Regardless of germs, though, one should probably be washing their hands after pumping gas anyways, owing to the chemical contamination that results.

gas pump


It’s pretty easy to visualize how the great quantity of pathogenic microbes on the pump handles found their way there — just think of every person who used the handle to pump gas over the last few weeks, and now think of the restroom breaks that tend to accompany gas stops, and I think that we have a pretty good starting point.

The new research was led by University of Arizona microbiologist Dr Charles Gerba. Considering that he is apparently known as “Dr Germ,” Gerba was probably a good choice for just such study.

The findings of the new work are pretty clear — 71% of all the gas-pump handles that were sampled were “highly contaminated” with sorts of microbes most highly associated with illness and disease.

I guess that makes for another advantage for electric vehicles. Whenever the next pandemic gets around to hitting, you can avoid picking up germs at congregating sites such as gas stations — instead, simply get your “fuel” at home (especially if you have an off-grid solar energy system). The story of electric vehicles and their significant consumer benefits just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it?

The other primary sites of contamination are interesting, if unsurprising, as well: the handles of street corner mailboxes (68%); ATM buttons (41%); and escalator railings (43%) lead that list. Yet other sites of notable contamination are fairly obvious as well: parking meters, kiosks of various kinds, crosswalk buttons, and vending machines.

Too bad that they don’t just use brass, copper, or bronze for all those surfaces right? Taking a page (if a rather expensive one) from the protocol of various militaries throughout history might do some good there.

But back to the EVs: Will this encourage more people to switch to home electricity for their transportation needs? I’m not so sure, but it’s certainly one more thing that EV owners and lessees can feel good about.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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