Can't touch this.
A study at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine revealed that hands-free faucets contain higher numbers of disease-causing microorganisms than the manual faucets.
Surprised? Here is how they found out.
According to the researchers, the study team examined the water samples and swabs of 20 newly installed automatic type of faucets and 20 manual type of faucets in three hospital wards over a six-week period starting December 2008. The four components of the electronic faucets were then separated for culture and sensitivity tests.
They found out that 50 percent of the water samples from the high-tech faucets were contaminated with the pathogen Legionella spp., whereas only 15 percent of the water samples from the low-tech faucets contain the disease-causing bacteria.
Disinfecting the four-part touch-free faucets was not completely successful. After flushing them with chlorine dioxide, 29 percent of the touch-free faucets still contain high amount of the bacteria than seven percent of the manual faucets, which do not have many parts.
What do these mean?
The findings are especially important to people who are admitted in hospitals. Because of their illness, confinement to the wards, limited mobility and increased susceptibility to infections, they are at an increased risk for hospital-acquired infections when using the contaminated faucets and sinks.
On the other hand, such faucets do not pose a threat to healthy people who use the automatic-type models infrequently in public toilets and airports where they come and go.
The pathogen that contaminate the faucets are the culprits of Legionnaire’s disease that cause symptoms similar to pneumonia such as chills, cough and high grade fever, which results to up to 18,000 annual hospitalizations. The disease leads to death in up to 30 percent of cases.
Some of the reasons why the high-tech faucets have more bacterial count are that they flush lesser water and organisms than the low-tech type—the reason they were invented.
Another possible reason is that the touch-free faucets do not work on the first attempt that instinctively makes people poke their dirty fingers at the faucets to initiate the stream.
As a result of these findings, the Johns Hopkins Hospital changed all the hands-free models to the manual type in all areas where patients will use them. They will also install the old-fashioned kind in the new wing they are constructing.
Details of this report here.