In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, with hand hygiene coming to the forefront, a recent study conducted by scientists from Florida Atlantic University has shed light on an often overlooked item that is a source of harmful bacteria – wristbands.
The study examined bracelets made from a variety of materials and found that virtually all bracelets were contaminated with bacteria, with fabric bracelets being the most susceptible to bacterial growth. This article discusses the results of the study, the potential health risks associated with bacteria on bracelets, and emphasizes the importance of regular sanitization. The study was published in the journal Advances in Infectious Diseases
Wristband materials and bacterial prevalence
Researchers tested 20 bracelets made of plastic, rubber, fabric, leather, gold and silver to determine if there was a correlation between the type of material and the presence of bacteria. The study involved swabbing the bracelets from random volunteers, including drivers, firefighters, office workers and veterinarians.
The results showed that 95% of the wristbands were contaminated with bacteria. The highest number of bacteria was found on fabric bracelets, followed by plastic, rubber, leather and metal (gold and silver). Surprisingly, the least amount of bacteria was found on the gold bracelet. Gender had no significant effect on the number of bacteria.
Porous surfaces and bacterial colonization
Nwadiuto Esiobu, one of the study’s co-authors, explains that plastic and rubber bracelets may be more favorable environments for bacterial growth because of their porous and static surfaces. These characteristics make them prone to attracting and breeding bacteria. This fact emphasizes the need for regular sanitation of wristbands, especially those made of materials more prone to bacterial colonization.
Harmful bacteria found on bracelets
During the study, bacteria of the genera Staphylococcus and Pseudomonas were found on the bracelets. Bacteria of the genus Staphylococcus were present on 85% of the bracelets and bacteria of the genus Pseudomonas on 30%. Both types of bacteria are commonly found on the skin. In addition, the intestinal bacterium E. coli, which can cause infection through fecal-oral transmission, was found on 60% of the wristbands. These results highlight the potential health risks associated with bacteria on bracelets.
Importance of disinfection
According to Nwadiuto Esiobu, the number and taxonomy of bacteria found on bracelets indicate the need for regular sanitization. Even at low numbers, these pathogens have public health implications. Esiobu emphasizes that health care workers and those working in hospitals should prioritize disinfecting wristbands due to the potential impact on immunocompromised individuals.
Effective disinfection methods
The study also examined the effectiveness of different disinfection methods against bacteria found on wristbands. Lysol disinfectant spray and 70% ethanol, commonly used in hospital-grade disinfectants and alcohol swabs, were found to be highly effective, providing 99.99% killing of bacteria within 30 seconds. On the other hand, apple cider vinegar, a more natural alternative, required a two-minute exposure to reduce bacterial counts. These results provide practical insight into the most effective ways to disinfect wristbands.
Expanding the research: Other devices at risk
In light of the findings, the researchers propose similar studies of other commonly used devices, such as headphones and smartphones. These devices come into contact with various surfaces and are often manipulated, making them potential carriers of harmful bacteria. Further research in this area may help to increase public awareness and improve hygiene practices.
A recent study conducted by Florida Atlantic University indicates an alarming prevalence of bacteria on wristbands. The findings emphasize the need for regular sanitization, especially of cloth bracelets, which are more prone to bacterial growth.
The findings also shed light on the potential health risks associated with bacteria found on bracelets, especially for immunocompromised individuals. Using effective disinfection methods such as Lysol disinfectant spray and 70% ethanol can reduce the risk of bacterial contamination. In addition, the study calls for further research on other commonly used devices for general hygiene and well-being.