Only 5 per cent of people wash their hands long enough to kill the germs that can cause infections.
The researchers at the Michigan State University have found that hand washing in restrooms in bars, restaurants and other public establishments, merely lasted on an average for about 6 seconds.
The study, based on observations of 3,749 people in public restrooms, suggested that fifteen per cent of men didn't wash their hands at all, compared with 7 per cent of women. It was observed that 33 per cent didn't use soap and 10 per cent didn't wash their hands at all. It was suggested that only 50 per cent of men used soap, compared with 78 per cent of women and people were less likely to wash their hands if the sink was dirty.
The study also found that hand washing was more prevalent earlier in the day, which according to Borchgrevink suggests that people who were out at night for a meal or drinks were in a relaxed mode and hand washing became less important. People were more likely to wash their hands if a sign encouraging them to do so was present.
Carl Borchgrevink, the lead investigator on the study, said that the findings are surprising because past research suggested that proper hand washing is occurring at a much higher rate.
The study was published in the Journal of Environmental Health.
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