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In a study several years ago of people passing through major U.S. airports, it turned out that about 30 percent weren't washing their hands after using the bathroom.
Not only is it gross, but just think of the consequences: These people who don't wash their hands, don't just keep them in their pockets. They walk around shaking other people's hands, holding babies and handling food and doorknobs.
These folks are running around exposing the fastidious hand washers among us to infections that can range from the pesky common cold to SARS, which can be fatal. After all, many infections are transmitted through hand-to-hand contact.
What's interesting is that people tend to exaggerate when they're asked about hand-washing. In surveys, 95 percent of people claim to wash their hands every time, when the actual observed percentage is much lower. So think about the fact that only around 75 percent of people claim to wash their hands after sneezing or coughing! The actual numbers are likely much lower.
On the bright side, after the SARS outbreak in Toronto, hand-washing rates at the airport approached 100 percent. So all it takes to get people scrubbing diligently is a major epidemic.
The other alternative is education on the importance of washing hands. Now all we need is a catchy slogan.
"As Many as 30 Percent of Travelers Don't Wash Their Hands After Using Public Restrooms at Airports" (Science Daily)