Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Entry archive:

(Stock photo / Getty Images/Stock photo / Getty Images)
(Stock photo / Getty Images/Stock photo / Getty Images)

What do ATMs and public toilets have in common? Add to ...

The next time you're getting money out of an ATM, keep in mind that that's probably not all you're getting.

In a gross survey of where germs and bacteria reside, a UK-based company has found that ATM machines around England are just as laden with bacteria as public toilets.

Experts took swabs from both the key pads on several ATMs from around the country and swabs from the seats of nearby public toilets. The results showed both contained bacteria that cause diarrhea and other illnesses.

More related to this story

"We were interested in comparing the levels of bacteria contamination between heavily used ATM machines and public lavatories," Dr. Richard Hastings, a microbiologist for BioCote, an antibacterial product coating, told The Telegraph. "We were surprised by our results because the ATM machines were shown to be heavily contaminated with bacteria; to the same level as nearby public lavatories. In addition to the bacteria we detected on ATMs were similar to those from the toilet, which are well known as causes of common human illnesses."

The swab tests were carried out following a survey of 3, 000 adults that looked at which places people considered the biggest health risk. Public toilets came in at number one, with ATM machines ranking a distant 10th. Public telephones and bus stops ranked second and third, respectively.

You might think public pay phones are disgusting breeding grounds for all kinds of germs, but it's ATM machines that should really get the germaphobe in you worked up, apparently.

Said Dr. Hastings: "But it's ironic that while people perceive chip and pin pads to be the least dirtiest, our swabbing experiments have actually shown them to be dirtier than public lavatories."

Meaning the next time your stopping to get cash out and have that "ka-ching" sound in your head, it might be just as appropriate to instead imagine the sound of a flushing toilet.

Follow on Twitter: @Dave_McGinn

 

In the know

Most popular videos »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular