Is Your Handbag Hazardous To Your Health?
A woman’s handbag is sacred territory and holds a wealth of important items, but many women are also carrying around unwelcome visitors. A new study reports that about 20 percent of handbags contain more bacteria than the average toilet, making the accessory hazardous to your health.
What’s in your handbag?
Lurking among the cosmetics, credit cards, small change, cell phone, forgotten gum, and tissues in a woman’s handbag are bacteria that can cause a wide spectrum of symptoms and disease. According to Peter Barratt, technical manager at Initial Washroom Hygiene, a British sanitation company that issued the report, “Handbags come into regular contact with our hands and a variety of surfaces, so the risk of transferring different germs onto them is very high.”
It also appears that the more costly the handbag, the bigger the risk. That’s because leather handbags are an inviting (and higher price tag) breeding ground for bacteria than are vinyl or bags made of other materials.
An ideal way for you to reduce the risk of carrying about hazardous bacteria along with your prized possessions is to regularly clean your handbags, which is easier and less costly for non-leather bags. Regularly washing your hands or using hand sanitizer after putting your hands into your bag is also recommended.
Can you name the most infected item in your bag? According to the report, hand cream containers top the list, so you may want to eliminate them from your handbag or keep them in a separate plastic bag in your purse.
Other common germy items
Is the paper money in your handbag clean? A number of studies have reported the presence of bacteria on paper money, including Staphylococcus coagulase-negative, which can cause a staph infection, and other bacteria that can cause flu-like infections.
Lots of places where you commonly use your money also are contaminated. Various studies have shown that items such as vending machines, gas station pumps, ATM machines, and pay phones all are havens for bacteria.
Initial Washroom Hygiene has issued previous reports, one of which spotlighted the germy conditions in workplace kitchen facilities, and the results may be enough to send you running for the nearest soap and water. Researchers found that three quarters of work surfaces in communal kitchens on the job had more bacteria than an average feminine sanitary waste disposal bin.
They also found that:
- More than 25 percent of draining boards harbored bacteria found in feces at levels more than fourfold the safety limit
- 40 percent of tea kettle handles had bacteria levels that were significantly greater than those found on restroom door handles
- 30 percent of shared microwaves had contaminated handles and buttons
- One third of shared refrigerator units had high levels of fecal bacteria
It’s enough to make you want to stay out of the kitchen. Then again, if you want to avoid germs, you will need to stay out of life: out of your home, the gym, your workplace, restaurants, swimming pools, schools, churches, and the list goes on and on.
The bottom line in all cases is to be aware and to wash your hands often. You can’t avoid bacteria and other germs, not in your handbags or your living spaces, but you can learn to live healthier with them.
Initial Washroom Hygiene