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Highlights: Ten Common Bathroom Mistakes Can Threaten Health

As the Da Vinci Science Center prepares to open the exhibition GROSSOLOGY: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body, the Center and Presenting Sponsor St. Luke’s University Health Network have released a list of ten common mistakes people make in their bathrooms that can lead to health risks.

The list is as follows:

  • Poor Hand Washing: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Ga., suggests wetting one’s hands with clean water, applying soap, rubbing one’s hands together to make a lather and to rub for at least 20 seconds, about the time it takes to hum the “Happy Birthday” song to oneself twice.
  • Using Cotton Swabs Incorrectly: A 2011 study by the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Mich., showed a direct connection between improper cotton swab use and the rupturing of ear drums.
  • Rinsing Contact Lenses with Water: The CDC has linked the use of tap water on contact lenses with the occurrence of Acanthamoeba keratitis, a serious corneal infection.
  • Placing Purses or Bags on the Bathroom Floor: Studies indicate that several types of bacteria, including fecal bacteria, can be transferred to the bottom of a purse or bag.
  • Using the Same Contact Lens Case for Too Long: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Washington, D.C, suggests replacing one’s contact lens case every 3-6 months.
  • Flushing the Toilet with the Lid Up: Polluted water vapor erupts out of the flushing toilet bowl and it can take several hours for these particles to finally settle, according to Charles Gerba, Ph.D., Professor of Microbiology at University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz., speaking in a WebMD article.
  • Sharing Towels: Sharing towels can spread a variety of diseases, including MRSA (or Staph Infection), according to the Brown University Health Services in Providence, RI.
  • Using the Wrong Kind of Mouthwash: Mouthwashes containing more than 25 percent alcohol have been linked to an increased risk of mouth and throat cancers according to a 2008 study in the Australian Dental Journal.
  • Keeping a Dirty Shower Head: Researchers from the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colo., determined in 2009 that shower heads can harbor potentially infectious bacteria and contribute to their growth.

Using PVC Shower Curtains: A 2008 study by the Center for Health, Environment & Justice in Falls Church, Va., asserted that PVC shower curtains contained high concentrations of chemicals that have been linked to liver damage as well as damage to the body’s central nervous, respiratory and reproductive systems.

Dennis Zehner, 484.664.1002, Ext. 112


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