10 'Harmless' Things You Should Really Wash Your Hands After Touching


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Beer Pong Ball
Beer pong: Silly college game and efficient vehicle for transferring bacteria? iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Oh, the ivory towers and hallowed lecture halls of college, where we learn about calculus, medieval history, astronomy and, um, beer pong. In this popular drinking game, a player on one team tries to toss a Ping-Pong ball into cups of brewski lined up on a table. If he or she makes it, a player on the opposing team has to swill the beer (after removing the ball, of course). Except for some drunk and disorderly behavior beer pong might produce, it's a perfectly harmless game, right?

Apparently not, according to Clemson University students who recently tested balls used in games across their Tiger Nation. During homecoming weekend, the scientists-in-training roamed the campus to find games in action and collect samples for their study. They then took the Ping-Pong balls to the lab and tested them for the presence of bacteria. On a typical ball used in outdoor games, students found up to 3 million bugs living on the surface. On a ball used indoors, on carpeted surfaces, they found just 200 bacteria. And don't kid yourself into thinking that germs don't like to swim. In a separate part of the experiment, the researchers found a high level of ball-to-beverage transfer [source: Collins]. Who said higher education was doomed?

Author's Note: 10 "Harmless Things You Should Wash Your Hands After Touching

As I wrote this article, I kept thinking about my high school job in the sub shop. These were the days before restaurant staff routinely wore gloves, so our hands were constantly in the food. Given that we were all a bunch of teenage dorks who could barely remember to close and lock the back door, much less wash our hands throughout a shift, I'm amazed the place wasn't shut down.

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Sources

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  • Associated Press. "Study: Hotel Guests Leave Germs, Viruses Behind in Rooms." Fox News. Sept. 29, 2006. (July 7, 2013) http://www.foxnews.com/story/2006/09/29/study-hotel-guests-leave-germs-viruses-behind-in-rooms/#ixzz2YquMqeyn
  • Bright, Kelly R., Stephanie A. Boone and Charles P. Gerba. "Occurrence of Bacteria and Viruses on Elementary Classroom Surfaces and the Potential Role of Classroom Hygiene in the Spread of Infectious Diseases." The Journal of School Nursing. Nov. 10, 2009.
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