"What we can take away from this is that no matter what kind of a surface it is, if it is contaminated, the more it is touched, the cleaner the surface becomes," she said. "Of course, the bacteria are moved to the hand. But it's important to remember that there are naturally occurring bacteria on everyone's hands, and hundreds or even thousands of cells would have to enter the body - through a cut in the skin or from mucous tissues - to make a person sick."
Blomeke said that since naturally occurring organisms live on our skin at all times, as well as on frequently touched common surfaces, the fact that some bacteria live on biometric devices shouldn't deter people from using them.
"Biometric devices are the way of the future, and their use is growing rapidly," she said. "In years to come, nearly everyone may be required to use the devices to enter buildings, pay for services or even clock in and out at work. Since there is the perception that these devices may cause illness, our study is important in that it at least establishes that a person is not any more likely to become ill from a biometric device that from a plain, old-fashioned doorknob."
Blomeke said hygienic concerns - whether on high-tech or low-tech surfaces or devices - can easily be alleviated.
"It's always a good idea to get in the practice of washing your hands with soap and water or keeping antibacterial solution handy," she said.
|Contact: Kim Medaris|