What are the nastiest surfaces in your hotel room?

An experiment that examined hotel room surfaces found TV remotes to be among the most heavily contaminated with bacteria.

A study that examined the surfaces in hotel rooms found television remotes to be among the most heavily contaminated with bacteria, and items on housekeeping carts carry the potential to cross-contaminate rooms.

The researchers sampled a variety of surfaces from hotel rooms in Texas, Indiana and South Carolina. They tested the levels of total aerobic bacteria and coliform (fecal) bacterial contamination on each of the surfaces.

Hotel Room, Image Via Shutterstock

While some of the most contaminated samples, including the toilet and the bathroom sink, were to be expected, the researchers also found high levels of bacterial contamination on the TV remote and the bedside lamp switch. Most concerning, some of highest levels of contamination were found in items from the housekeepers’ carts, including sponges and mops which pose a risk for cross-contamination of rooms.

Surfaces with the lowest contamination included the headboard on the bed, curtain rods and the bathroom door handle. The researchers cannot say whether or not the bacteria detected can cause disease, however, the contamination levels are a reliable indicator of overall cleanliness.

Researchers from the University of Houston reported the findings at the 2012 General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology on June 8, 2012. Katie Kirsch, an undergraduate student at the University of Houston, presented the study. She said:

The current validation method for hotel room cleanliness is a visual assessment, which has been shown to be ineffective in measuring levels of sanitation.

Remote Control, Image Via Shutterstock

As the public becomes increasingly concerned with public health, hotel room cleanliness and sanitation are becoming consideration factors for consumers when selecting a hotel room. Contact with contaminated surfaces is a possible mode of transmission of illness during outbreaks in hotels. This, combined with the lack of standardization of hotel room cleanliness, poses a risk for hotel guests, specifically immunocompromised individuals who are more susceptible to infection.

The study was designed as the first step in applying the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system to hotel room cleanliness. Originally developed by the NASA, HACCP is a systematic preventive approach that identifies potential physical, chemical and biological hazards and designs measurements to reduce these risks to safe levels.

Kirsch warned that this study is preliminary and is limited by the sample size, which included only three rooms in each state and 19 surfaces within each hotel room, but hopes that it is just the beginning of a body of research that could offer a scientific basis to hotel housekeeping.

The researchers sampled a variety of surfaces from hotel rooms in Texas, Indiana and South Carolina. They tested the levels of total aerobic bacteria and coliform (fecal) bacterial contamination on each of the surfaces.

Bottom line: A study by University of Houston researchers that examined the surfaces in hotel rooms found television remotes to be among the most heavily contaminated with bacteria, and items on housekeeping carts carry the potential to cross-contaminate rooms.

Via EurekAlert

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