Ninety-one percent of American adults say they always wash their hands after using public restrooms. But just 83 percent actually did so, according to a separate observational study.
These results were among those released by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) and The Soap and Detergent Association (SDA), during a press conference highlighting National Clean Hands Week. Both groups have used surveys over the years to help highlight a vital public health message from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
The single most important thing we can do to keep from getting sick and spreading illness to others is to clean our hands.
An August 2005 study conducted for ASM and SDA by Harris Interactive observed 6,336 individuals wash their hands – or not – at six public attractions in four major cities: 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).
Ninety percent of the women observed washed their hands, compared to 75 percent of men. By contrast, in an August 2005 telephone survey of 1,013 American adults also conducted by Harris Interactive®, 97 percent of women and 96 percent of men say they always or usually wash their hands after using a public restroom.
"The American Society for Microbiology has been focusing on increasing public awareness of clean hands in periodic campaigns since 1996, and this message remains one of our most important priorities," according to Judy Daly, Ph.D. Dr. Daly is the elected Secretary of the Society and Director of the Microbiology Laboratories, Primary Children's Medical Center, Salt Lake City, Utah and Professor in the Department of Pathology, University of Utah School of Medicine.
"Good health is within reach," said Brian Sansoni, Vice President of Communication at The Soap and Detergent Association. "Washing with soap and water is still the gold standard when it comes to removing dirt and grime from our hands. But if soap and water are out of reach, hand sanitizers and wipes are great hygiene tools to have on hand."