Hands-free taps can 'harbour more germs'

3rd of May 2011
Hands-free taps can 'harbour more germs'

Hands-free electronic taps, which dispense water without the user having to touch them, harbour more germs than old fashioned manual ones - according to a hospital study in the USA.

Researchers compared bacterial growth in both types of tap at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. They found Legionella growing in 50 per cent of water samples from the hands-free taps compared to just 15 per cent of the manual ones.

The electronic taps also had twice as many bacteria of any kind compared to the manual taps at the hospital.

Although the specific reason for the higher bacterial growth in the hands-free taps is still not clear, the researchers suspect the complex mechanical components found in automatic taps simply offer a greater surface area for bacteria to become trapped and grow. Hospital management are now in the process of removing all hands-free taps and replacing them with manual ones.

“Newer is not necessarily better when it comes to infection control in hospitals, especially when it comes to warding off potential hazards from water-borne bacteria, such as Legionella species,” said Dr Lisa Maragakis, a specialist in infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.

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