Men fail in the bathroom: Public bathroom habits getting worse

When it comes to washing one’s hands in public restrooms, women beat men hands down.  An observational study of US public restroom habits out today says one-third of men don't wash hands in public restrooms while 88% of women do lather up.  A follow up telephone survey of 1,001 adults ages 18 and over found that both lie about the activity though men fail more there too:  92% of adults say they wash their hands in public restrooms. The story is perhaps a little more disconcerting when you realize that almost one in five small business managers read work-related e-mails and other documents in the bathroom, presumably at work according to another study.  This study follows another one that indicated more Americans are logging wirelessly into the Internet - from their bathrooms.Anyway, for the washroom study researchers at Harris Interactive observed the behavior of 6,076 adults in public restrooms and recorded whether or not they washed their hands. The research was conducted in four cities and at six different locations: Atlanta (Turner Field), Chicago (Museum of Science and Industry, Shedd Aquarium), New York City (Grand Central Station, Penn Station), and San Francisco (Ferry Terminal Farmers Market).  The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) sponsored the study.  Compared to 2005 – when the group conducted the same test in the same locales -- the women’s number represented a two percent drop-off for the ladies. Men, however really slacked off – 75% were observed washing their hands two years ago.And the men just kept on getting dirty – especially at sporting events. Only 57% of the guys were observed washing their hands at Turner Field in Atlanta (the lowest figure at any of the locales). On the other hand, women hit a home run: 95% were observed cleaning their hands (the highest percentage observed in 2007). Of all those observed, adults in Chicago came out on top when it came to handwashing: 81% lathered up. New York turned out to be the “second city” in this study, with 79% washing up, followed by Atlanta (75%) and San Francisco (73%).The cleanest men were at a place with a lot of water: Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium (81%). This equals the lowest percentage observed among women – also at Shedd Aquarium.Americans’ self-reported hygiene behavior in 2007 remains consistent with what past surveys show. Among 1,001 men and women interviewed via telephone in 2007, 92% say they always wash their hands after going to a public restroom and 86% say they do likewise after using the bathroom in the home. In 2005, those figures were 91% and 83%, respectively.Nearly three-quarters (73%) say they always wash their hands after changing a diaper (same as two years ago). Seventy-eight percent say they always hand wash before handling or eating food (compared to 77% in 2005). Only one-third (34%) of respondents say they always wash their hands after coughing or sneezing (up from 32% in 2005).   

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