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Despite H1N1 Flu Threat, Most Americans Haven't Increased Hand Washing

MILWAUKEE, Aug. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Worries about the H1N1 virus haven't changed most Americans' hand washing habits, says a national survey by Bradley Corporation, a leading manufacturer of commercial bathroom and locker room furnishings.

In Bradley's first Healthy Hand Washing Survey, 54 percent said they "wash their hands no more or less frequently" in public restrooms since the H1N1 virus emerged.

"We were extremely surprised by that response especially since the medical community calls hand washing the best defense against the spread of cold and flu viruses," says Jon Dommisse, director of marketing and product development at Bradley Corporation.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, "Hand washing is a simple thing to do and it's the best way to prevent infection and illness." And for proper hand washing, the CDC says nothing beats soap and water.

Bradley's survey, conducted online July 28-31, queried 1,020 Americans about hand washing in public restrooms. The respondents were from around the country, ranged in age from 18 to 65-plus and were equally divided by gender.

Although 87 percent said they did wash their hands after using public lavatories, other responses indicated some may have exaggerated how often they did the job correctly. When asked if they had also used soap, the numbers declined slightly to 86 percent; yet 55 percent of the group admitted on occasion they've simply rinsed, without using soap.

In contrast to what people say they do, numerous observational studies have reported what Americans actually do. In 2007, researchers from the American Society for Microbiology found only 77 percent washed their hands after using a public restroom. In 2004, the Minnesota Department of Health observed hand washing at the Minnesota state fairgrounds, finding 75 percent of women and 51 percent of men washed with soap and water after using a public restroom.

Hand washing among school-age children is especially important since at least 22 million school days are lost every year due to the common cold, according to the CDC. Illness can spread throughout the school so it's important that students wash their hands after using the bathroom, before eating and after coughing, sneezing or blowing their nose.

"Hand washing is a lifetime health practice," says Dommisse. "Children should understand its benefits and take that knowledge into adulthood."

For hand washing tips, visit

SOURCE Bradley Corporation
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