Campus contamination: a touchy subject

As winter approaches, germs are here and spreading. Many objects across campus are contaminated by millions of germs a day. Door knobs, bus handles and computer lab keyboards are among the many objects that students constantly touch.

Not washing hands opens door to germs, spreadable bacteria

Brenda Anne Wilson, professor in microbiology, said she has conducted experiments to show how bathrooms and their door handles are contaminated.

“In our study, we found that the ‘going out’ handle was less contaminated than the ‘going in’ handle. The handle when leaving was less contaminated than other parts of the door,” Wilson said. “Surprisingly, we found that one of the most contaminated parts of a men’s bathroom is the wall above the urinals, and one of the most contaminated areas in the women’s bathroom was the toilet seat.”

Wiping surfaces down becomes key to preventing public infection

Public computer labs try to reduce the amount of germs that contaminate the keyboards by making hand sanitizers available for everyone who uses the computers. Wilson said keyboards have the potential to be contaminated because many people use the public computers.

“Along with all other public objects, it depends on whether or not the keyboards are wiped down often,” Wilson said. “Keyboards are hard to clean, so people should take it upon themselves to sanitize their hands after use.”

Contamination on bus handles can be touchy, dirty subject

Jan Kijowski, marketing director for the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, said 9.9 million people ride the bus system each year.

“The vehicles are cleaned every night with disinfectants. A month ago we set up sanitary stations in the parking garages for operators to use to clean their buses,” Kijowski said. “The poles are wiped down every night, but it is up to the riders of the bus, who come in contact with the handles, to take care of themselves and wash their hands.

Sanitation goes hand in hand with good, clean health

David Lawrance, medical director at McKinley Health Center, said he thinks the University has done a good job of trying to give students the ability to kill germs.

“They’re doing a good job setting up hand sanitizers across campus,” he said. “But it’s up to students to wash their hands and use these sanitizers.”