The original question and correct answer are given along with the explanation from the quiz. Additional data follows that in maroon text.
1 What is the single, most effective way to keep your home clean according to most experts?
Answer: Take your shoes off when entering your house.
It is surprising how much debris and soil is brought into your home on the soles of shoes. By removing shoes, you not only prevent grass, leaves, grease, oil, sticky substances, etc. from entering your home, you eliminate a tremendous amount of harmful bacteria. The soles of shoes generally have a great deal more dreaded bacteria than toilet seats!
ABC’s Good Morning America show tested the soles of shoes from eight different people and two dogs. The amounts of harmful bacteria differed from sole to sole depending upon where the participants had walked. All, however, had bacteria that can cause infections in our stomachs, eyes, and lungs. Bacteria on the bottoms of our shoes seem to live longer than that found elsewhere in our homes because as we walk we pick up material, too, that feeds the growth of the microorganisms.
Carpets and tile floors, too, absorb much of both soil and bacteria. Children under the age of 2 are the most vulnerable to germs we track into our homes because they play on the floor and put their hands in their mouths an average of 80 times an hour!
Out of "GMA's" 10 tests, nine contained coliform, a type of bacteria that comes mostly from human and animal waste. Scientists blame the floors of public restrooms and bird and dog droppings. The dogs in "GMA's" test came in fifth and ninth place for dirtiest soles. But that doesn't mean dogs are cleaner than people. One of the dogs in the test had just been for a walk in the rain, which probably cleaned his paws. Also, paws are much smaller than our shoes, so they carry fewer germs.
Is it any wonder that from Europe to Asia and elsewhere it is the custom to not wear shoes in the home?
What to Do: If you don’t want to drop your shoes before entering your home, studies prove that a good mat at the door helps to reduce household dust, chemicals, and other debris…but, only if it is properly and frequently used.
2 What is the dirtiest (“germiest”) room in your house?
While most people think the bathroom would be the dirtiest, it is the kitchen because this is where food is prepared. If not properly controlled, food debris can accumulate and cause growth of bacteria that can cause illness and disease. For example, a study by the Lysol Corporation found that there are more bacteria on the handle of a refrigerator than on a toilet seat. But the real hot zone for germs is the kitchen sink where even more germs can be found after dishes have been washed!
Despite the need for hygiene, it's easy to let things get out of control in the kitchen. If you don't wipe up every time you prepare a meal, grease can build up on stovetops and countertops; bacteria can start to grow on cutting boards; dirt will be attracted to the sticky residue left behind by spilled juice; and dust will collect on doorframes. Inside the refrigerator, mold will start to grow on that old cheese, or spilled gravy; and the list goes on.
3 Which is better to use?
Answer: Regular, non-antibacterial liquid soap.
Liquid soaps are cleaner to use than bar soap for a couple of reasons discussed in our CQ Quiz Notes. Also, a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine a few years ago showed that those who used antibacterial soaps instead of regular soap had the same numbers of colds, runny noses, sore throats and fevers. (Colds and flu are caused by viruses; antibacterial soap doesn’t help.) Even worse, if your hands get chaffed from overusing strong soaps, you make it easier for harmful bacteria to enter your skin.
Liquid soap is generally considered “cleaner” than bar soap for two reasons:
First, some ingredients in bar soap chemically interact with minerals in hard water to form soap scum on bathtubs and shower tiles and glass. Since hard water can be found in more than 80% of American homes, this is a widespread problem. Bar soap animal fat and fillers react with hard water’s calcium, magnesium salts, and other dissolved compounds such as bicarbonates and sulfates to leave what is commonly called “soap scum.” Of course, because of the hard water itself, a scum will accumulate even if you use liquid soap. At least by using liquid soap, scum accumulation is reduced.
Second, bar soap is touched by other people, and it sits in moisture where small amounts of bacteria can grow. Liquid soap, however, is pumped straight from the container therefore providing greater protection.
4 If the kitchen is a home’s germ center, which of the following items is the biggest offender?
Answer: Sponge or dishcloth.
Yes, an innocent-looking sponge can have as many as 7 billion microbes growing in its damp, dark crevices. After that come the kitchen sink drain, the faucet, cutting boards, and fridge handles. This is why these are some of the areas given special attention by thorough White Glove cleaning teams.
By the way, the kitchen faucet tested in one particular study had 229,000 microbes growing per inch, which made the 49 germs per inch lurking on the toilet seat in the same study look highly non-threatening by comparison.
5 Why should you put the seat down before flushing the toilet?
Answer: To keep nearby things like the flush handle, toothbrushes, nail files, and combs, from being contaminated.
As strange as it may seem, germs can escape a flushing toilet and contaminate things in the bathroom such as toothbrushes, the flush handle, cups used for mouthwash, combs, etc. Ladies, you certainly don’t want your make up, tweezers, and other things used around you eyes, nose, and mouth to be covered with germs that originated in a toilet! Hard to believe?
Well, some years ago, a microbiologist named Dr. Charles Gerba conducted a study that discovered a flushing toilet sends an aerosol spray containing bacteria and viruses all around the bathroom for at least two hours after each flush. Donna Duberg, assistant professor of clinical laboratory science at St. Louis University, said, “Flushing aerosolizes all the organisms found in feces, and there are 3.2 million microbes per square inch of a toilet bowl.” That means that when you flush with the lid up, it's like pressing the nozzle on a spray canister full of infectious organisms.
Admittedly, the amount of spray would depend on the amount of turbulence in the water. Some modern, low turbulence toilets would not be big offenders. In any event, you might want to put the toilet seat down just to be on the safe side.
6 Babies who snuggle family pets are:
Answer: less likely to get allergies.
Several studies suggest that babies who are exposed during their first year of life to microbes that live in animal fur are 70 percent less likely to later develop asthma and allergies to cats, dogs, dust mites, and ragweed--unless a parent or caregiver smokes.
The theory is that the early exposure to animals helps teach the developing immune system to recognize that common allergens pose no harm. But exposure to cigarette smoke somehow interferes with the immune system's development.
7 Of the following, which is the best way to protect yourself from the spread of infectious disease?
Answer: Wash your hands.
We get as much as 80 percent of our diseases from other people. Even though you are careful to not come into direct contact with an infected person, you can easily become infected indirectly. This means you pick up the germs of infected people when you touch something that they have touched, and the bacteria or virus are still alive. With contaminated hands we then touch food that we eat, put our fingers in our mouths, and rub our eyes. Because we do this so often, and without thinking, the best protection is to wash our hands frequently as necessary.
But, we must wash our hands properly to have maximum protection. Proper hand washing—which takes at least 20 seconds, according to Philip M. Tierno, Jr., Ph.D., the author of The Secret Life of Germs--can really help. What's surprising is how few people do it, even after going to the bathroom. Dr. Tierno says cameras in public restrooms have shown that up to 90 percent of the people in there either skip washing up, or do it wrong.
8 People put germs into their bodies by putting dirty fingers into their mouths, and rubbing their eyes, and touching food with those same dirty fingers. We get our fingers dirty by touching contaminated surfaces. Here’s the question: Just how many different surfaces does an average person touch in just 30 minutes?
In just a half-hour we touch on average 100 different surfaces! Think about this next time you are in a public area. Before putting that roll or piece of bread in your mouth at dinner, think whether or not you washed your hands.
A working adult touches even more: 30 objects in a minute. A child brings one of his hands to his nose or mouth every three minutes.
Since 80% of all common infections like colds, influenza and diarrhea are spread though the environment, it is no wonder that the touch of hands can bring about diseases in a high-speed manner. The importance of frequent hand washing cannot be over emphasized.
Speaking of hand washing, do you think that when you use those air dryers in public restrooms, you are lessening your chance of getting bacteria on your hands? Dr. Gerba’s research shows that using those dryers increases bacteria on your hands by 162%!
9 What is the most germ-contaminated surface in the average home?
Answer: Telephone receiver
Think about it: Your phone receiver is dirtier than a toilet seat!! Yes, this includes cell phones! Both fingers and mouths contaminate a telephone receiver.
Think of how many fewer people have contracted colds and other infectious diseases using their own personal cell phone rather than public telephones. Tests have found the dreaded MRSA bacteria (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) on phone receivers and cell phones. The MRSA is a drug-resistant form of staph bacteria that can cause serious skin and blood infections, which can turn fatal. If possible, don’t share phones. Wipe down your office, home and cell phones regularly with disinfecting wipes or a paper towel sprayed with a germicidal agent.
Hovering over the toilet seat isn’t necessary to avoid catching something. While 50% of Americans won’t sit on a public toilet seat, the risk of catching something from one is so minimal that you can go ahead and take a seat. Studies by microbiologist (and co-author of The Germ Freak’s Guide to Outwitting Cold and Flu) Charles Gerba, Ph.D., confirm that the faucet handle actually has more germs on it than the toilet seat.
10 How long can germs—bacteria and viruses—generally live once they have been transferred to a surface such as a doorknob, computer keyboard, water fountain handle, or telephone receiver?
Answer: 3 days
These microorganisms can live even longer if they have nourishment. As we have learned, this is why the soles of our shoes have so many germs. A dirty kitchen with soiled surfaces, and food particles in nooks and crannies only attract bugs and insects, and encourages the growth of bacteria and viruses.
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11 What's the safest way to clean the highchair tray after your little one is finished with a meal?
Answer: Wash it with hot water and soap in the sink, then let it air dry.
Since your little one uses the tray like a plate, it's best to treat it like one.
Some highchair trays are even dishwasher safe. Spray disinfectants may leave residues that aren't food safe, and a kitchen sponge can harbor billions of bacteria — which means you could be adding germs while you wipe up.
12 All of the following are components of common household dust. Which one accounts for up to 90% of dust in an average home?
Answer: Human and animal dead skin cells
At least 80%, and often 90%, of the things you see floating through a sunbeam are dead skin flakes (dander) from humans and animals. Find out what else common household dust contains by looking up “dust” in our CLEAN-o-pedia (see Learning Center).
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13 Where are you most likely to pick up bacteria that could make you sick?
Answer: In a kitchen
Bedrooms don’t hold the germs for long because cold viruses die quickly, and even viruses that remain “alive” quickly lose their potency once outside the body. Kitchens, however, provide an environment where bacteria can thrive much longer than anywhere else in the home.
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14 You face the biggest risk of getting sick if you:
Answer: kiss your child.
"Children are the primary ones who spread diseases, especially colds. They are crowded together, their personal hygiene is not as good and they bring the diseases back to their families," says A. Clinton White, M.D., an infectious diseases expert in Galveston, Texas. The cookie shouldn't cause you any problems, nor should the soda can. Viruses such as colds live in nasal mucus and not saliva.
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15 It is impossible for a vacuum cleaner to filter out of its exhaust nearly 100% of dust and other airborne contaminants as small of 0.3 microns in size! (A human hair, for comparison, is about 60-75 microns in diameter.)
Actually a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter removes a minimum of 99.97% of contaminants at 0.3 microns in size. Particles less than 35 microns can't be seen with the naked eye. Pollen is in the 10-100 micron range, with dust in the .5-5 micron range. Particles under 5 microns can to penetrate deep into the lungs. Amazing, right? That’s why White Glove is moving to the use of HEPA filters on all of its vacuums.
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