Parking Kiosks, ATMs, Restaurant Menus: These Are Philly’s Germiest Things

Photograph by Jeff Fusco

Photograph by Jeff Fusco

Action News health reporter Ali Gorman had a winner of an assignment this week. She was tasked with going out and swabbing surfaces around town to measure the germiness of things we touch every day: parking kiosks, dollar bills, crosswalk buttons. “This isn’t a story to scare you from touching anything,” said Gorman in her report last night. And while that’s true—because some germs aren’t actually harmful to you—it’s still, well, kind of disgusting.

The device she used to measure germ levels is called a Hygiena luminometer. You simply swab a surface, insert the swab into the handheld device, and in 15 seconds, it calculates the number of organisms living there. Note that it doesn’t tell you what those organisms are or whether or not they are harmful; it simply tells you how clean or dirty a surface is.

The least germy surface she tested was a voting booth, which came back with a reading of 91. For comparison’s sake, patient rooms at hospitals are supposed to test at less than 50, and food manufacturing equipment at less than 10. So by that metric, the voting booth wasn’t all that bad. (It helped, she said, that there was a hand sanitizer station nearby.)

Then there were the germiest surfaces. Gorman gives a full breakdown of the 10 germiest places she tested, but here are the top three:

3. PPA parking kiosk: 1,409
2. ATM: 1,596
1. Playground slide: 2,392

The best way to safeguard yourself against any harmful germs that might be lurking on these surfaces is, of course, frequent hand-washing and avoiding touching your face, nose or mouth as much as you can. The risk for catching anything harmful is higher in the winter, when more people are sick, so keeping your hands clean is a good practice to get into now.

Check out Gorman’s full list of Philly’s germy surfaces here.

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