Survey suggests women's purses are as dirty as toilets - WKRN News 2

Survey suggests women's purses are as dirty as toilets

Posted: Updated: May 20, 2013 05:11 PM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

A new study by a UK washroom services company reveals that women's purses are as filthy as a toilet seat.

Initial Hygiene took swabs from 100 surfaces and items from 25 handbags. The company discovered 20% of those purses carried traces of E. coli bacteria.

That news wasn't a surprise to Pam Best and Cara Lord, both self-diagnosed 'germa-phobes'.

"I won't put mine on the floor. It either sits in my lap or it hangs off of my arm," said Best.

She and Lord have set aside places to put their purses when they get home.

"I do not set it anywhere in the kitchen I have a place just outside of my kitchen in the family room and I keep my purse there all the time," Lord said

"Because you set it on the floor, and that's where people's shoes have walked and the shoes have walked through all kinds of stuff. They've walked in restrooms, parks, they walk everywhere that people don't care about germs have walked," she continued.

Nashville's News 2 asked Dr. William Schaffner, Vanderbilt's expert on infectious diseases and chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine, about the study.

"If you go out with a cotton swab and swab just about anything in the inanimate environment and take those swabs into the laboratory and grow bacteria, we will find some bacteria," Schaffner explained.

This latest study is one of dozens that have been done in recent years on the cleanliness of toilet seats, door knobs, cellphones and dollar bills.

Schaffner said a woman's purse is no different than any of those things.

"We, in infectious diseases, have not been able to trace major transmission from the inanimate environment that causes disease," he said. "We don't obsess in our household about the inanimate surfaces. Of course we keep them reasonably clean; that's quite sufficient."

He continued, "We live in a germy world and the best way to protect ourselves is to be reasonable and attentive to hand hygiene."

Schaffner added that studies such as the one in the UK easily grab headlines and come as a surprise to most people but that germs and bacteria are on everything we touch.

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