British study finds bacteria are all over your car and you should commence panicking now.

I’m always amused by non-news items on things that seem completely obvious to me. Things such as the fact that bacteria are all around us and some of them could make you sick. Is there really anyone out there who, if they just took a moment to think about it, doesn’t realize that is true? There must be because I keep seeing news items like this one in the Toronto CityNews:

The research from Aston University in Birmingham shows the average vehicle has about 283 different types of bacteria inside of it in every square centimetre. And that’s not all. One of the worst offenders is the place you touch the most often – the gear shift. That was found to be home to about 356 different germs.

Even more alarming is your trunk, where some 850 bacteria were found to be happily going along for the ride. In one case, scientists also discovered traces of excrement there, noting it’s the same place where many people put their groceries after coming home from a shopping trip.

Not surprisingly, microbiologists determined those who transport kids and pets had the most germ filled cars.

“Whilst most of the bacteria we’ve found are unlikely to cause serious health problems, some cars, particularly those which regularly carry children and animals, play host to potentially harmful germs,” notes Anthony Hilton, the University’s director of Biology and Biomedical Science.

Seriously, is this news to anyone with more than two functioning brain cells? Hey, didja know your car is full of bacteria that might make you sick and the problem is compounded if you have kids or pets? I did. In fact I thought the bacteria count sounded a little on the low side. I would’ve bet there’d be tons more than what they found.

This isn’t news, but that didn’t stop the reporter from getting a scary sounding quote out of it. Your car is going to kill you just by sitting inside it and especially if you eat or breathe inside it:

Another big problem: the dashboard, where many people put their food, as they eat on the run. Researchers found old hamburger wrappers, empty drink bottles, and even uneaten morsels in many of the cars, while their survey of more than 1,300 owners found most admitted their vehicles were littered with such debris.

That has Hilton worried. “People would be horrified at the thought of eating off their toilet seat,” he warns. “But few realize eating off their car dashboard is just as likely to make them sick.”

If that still hasn’t made you paranoid about getting behind the wheel, consider this as winter approaches – turning on the heat could be blowing more microscopic beasties your way.

Older cars were found to harbour larger amounts of airborne bacteria and fungi whenever a driver turns on the fan. Scientists believe that’s because few people bother to replace their air filters as their vehicles age.

I love how they manage to work in a reference to eating off your toilet seat in there. They love mentioning toilet seats whenever they talk about bacteria, don’t they? If they can get a reference in then they know their work is done: “… and that’s why breathing air in your home is JUST AS BAD AS EATING OFF YOUR TOILET SEAT!!!”

Does it surprise anyone this study was done by the insurance companies to encourage folks to take better care of their cars? Not that that’s not a good suggestion, one I could stand to follow a bit myself, but there are better arguments to be made such as “a well maintained car has a higher resale value and fewer problems in the long run.” But they decided to go with “YOUR CAR IS TOTALLY DISGUSTING AND WILL KILL YOU YOU PATHETIC SLOB!” and I’m just not sure how that helps.

7 thoughts on “British study finds bacteria are all over your car and you should commence panicking now.

  1. People are germaphobes these days, if you go around constantly worrying that you might get sick then you need some help.

  2. Indeed, Les, it’s hard to believe that it’s news that “germs are everywhere”.

    While I don’t go out of my way to eat off other people’s toilet seats, I do believe that it’s a good idea to keep your immune system exercised and not pampered by too much hygiene.  To that end, I occasionally (once or twice a year) eat a pinch of dirt from wherever I am.  Maybe it’s just superstition, but I figure that throwing some strange bugs at my antibodies once in a while keeps them on their toes.

  3. Maybe it’s just superstition, but I figure that throwing some strange bugs at my antibodies once in a while keeps them on their toes.

    I believe there are a couple of reports out there (that I’m too lazy to look up) that say that that’s a fact and not superstition at all.

  4. I may dig in the dirt and grime for a living but I can’t believe my car is out to kill me.

  5. Actually I read a study that the toilet seat in public bathrooms had very little bacteria on it but the floor and the faucet had the most bacteria in a bathroom.

    Yea it’s obvious that germs are all around us. Microbes rule the world!

  6. The first experiment we do in our micro class is to sample the environment.  I arm the students with petri dishes and swabs, tell them to go out and find bacteria.  Reliably, the cleanest place tested is the toilet seat.  Last semester the dirtiest place was “bottom of purse”. 

    I still won’t let The Husband put the grocery bags on the counter.

    It’s hell being married to a microbiologist!

    SG

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