Public restrooms not extra germy: study

San Diego – Good news, public bathroom users.

Researchers conducting a study on the campus of San Diego State University found that public restrooms are no more or less germ-infested than most rooms, including those in our own homes.

For the study, researchers analyzed bacterial communities in four public restrooms at various intervals after decontamination of floors, toilet seats and soap dispensers. The restroom surfaces were found to be “dry, barren and resource-poor” when it came to fostering microbial growth, the study authors concluded.

Skin- and outdoor-associated bacteria tended to persist better in the cool, dry environments, researchers said. The majority of bacteria originated from the type Staphylococcus, which can be life-threatening in certain cases. Human papilloma and herpes viruses also were detected, which reinforces the need of frequent handwashing to avoid illness.

The study was published online Nov. 14 in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.