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February 24, 2013 - 9:28pm

Campus Corner: What's lurking in the bathroom?


Is it just me or do the bathrooms in Mason Hall and the Undergraduate Library need some serious attention? Granted, I can’t attest to the unknown territory of the men’s bathroom but ladies, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re currently eating, I’m warning you — you may want to put down that fork until after you’ve read this post.

In a study released in PLoS ONE, a peer review science journal, a group of researchers unearthed exactly what germs lurk in public bathrooms. Using a high-throughput genetic sequencing technique, the researchers detected the bacteria on 10 different surfaces in 12 men’s and women’s bathrooms on a college campus. I won’t go into the details, but lets just say the researchers found some serious bacteria. Bacteria linked with the mouth, gut, and urine was found on the doors, faucet handles, soap dispensers, toilet seats and various areas of the floor. Now that’s disgusting.

Similarly, on ABC’s 20/20, Dr. Charles Gerba found two million bacteria per square inch on the bathroom floor (an amount 200 times higher than a sanitary surface). Ew.

I wouldn’t exactly consider myself a germaphobe but when I walk into the bathroom in Mason Hall and the UGLi — especially the ground floor levels — I know I scrunch my nose and avoid touching any unnecessary surface. From the scraps of toilet paper — used or unused — lying on the floor to the mysterious wet spots that form in the strangest places, it’s clear that the bathrooms desperately need more attention.

With hundreds of students going in and out of the restrooms everyday I understand keeping up with cleaning can be difficult. However, is it too much to ask for a brief midday cleaning, or maybe two? In the meantime, please, please, I beg of you, wash your hands. Who knows what you’re touching when you reach for that bathroom door handle.

Kat Cartwright can be reached at