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If you’re in the business of manufacturing soap or those anti-bacterial hand wash gels there’s some news today that will get you quite excited, then more news that’ll bring you right bang down to earth.

First the good. According to the American Society for Microbiology and the American Cleaning Institute, more adults are washing their hands after using public toilets than ever. At least since studies on the subject began in 1996. Phew.

The report, which involved researchers sneakily observing whether or not people washed their hands after using the loo, suggests 85 percent are washing (which, er, leaves 15 percent who aren’t – just pray you don’t shake hands with one of them after they’ve paid a visit).

That’s up from 77 percent in 2007, apparently. So at least things are going in the right direction.

In a separate telephone survey, 96 percent of adults said they always wash their hands after using a public toilet. So some, obviously, are telling porkies then.

Well that’s the good news. Now the bad.

According to researchers who presented their findings at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, currently taking place in Boston, using alcohol-based disinfecting hand gels doesn’t offer the protection against swine flu that health authorities around the world said they would.

In trials, volunteers used the hand disinfectant gels every three hours or so for 10 weeks. The results showed that the equivalent of 42 out of 100 gel-users contracted flu, compared with 51 out of 100 who didn’t use the hand disinfectants. The difference isn’t statistically significant, say the researchers.


I just hope the second piece of news doesn’t impact on the first, and that more people who say they always wash their hands after using a public loo decide it’s not worth the bother. Urgggh. What a horrible thought.