MORE than one in 10 people's hands are so contaminated with faecal organisms that the levels of bacteria detected were equal to what you would expect to find in a dirty toilet bowl, a study suggested today.
Out of the samples taken, 11pc of hands, 8pc of bank cards and 6pc of bank notes showed this form of gross contamination, the study found.
One in 10 bank cards (10pc) and one in seven notes (14pc) in Britain were found to be contaminated with some faecal organisms, the research, carried out at Queen Mary, University of London and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, showed.
More than a quarter (26pc) of hands sampled showed traces of faecal contamination including bacteria such as E.coli, the study found.
The 272 participants who took part in the study were also asked to fill out a questionnaire with the results revealing only 39pc washed their hands before eating.
The vast majority (91pc) of respondents also stated that they washed their hands after using the toilet, although the levels of faecal organisms on cards and currency suggested otherwise, researchers said.
Washing hands with soap can reduce diarrhoeal infections by up to 42pc but only 69pc of people reported doing this whenever possible.
Dr Ron Cutler, who led the research, said: "Our analysis revealed that by handling cards and money each day we are coming into contact with some potential pathogens revealing faecal contamination including E. coli and Staphylococci.
"People may tell us they wash their hands but the research shows us different, and highlights just how easily transferable these pathogens are."
The most "grossly" contaminated cards and notes were holding levels of bacteria that were comparable to a dirty toilet bowl.