Hygiene Study reveals neglected ‘Hygiene Hotspots’ in Saudi Arabian Homes
Hygiene Council meets in Riyadh, recommends more targeted cleaning approach to ‘break the chain of infection’
- Council releases findings from international, regional and local study
- Nine out of ten fridges in Saudi Homes are a breeding ground for germs
Riyadh, 29th, July, 2010: – The results of the international, regional and local Hygiene Home Truths Study 2010, were revealed today during the fifth annual Hygiene Council meeting held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The study, supported and organized by Dettol, showed that bathroom seals, the insides of fridges, general purpose kitchen towels and kettle handles are some of the most highly contaminated hygiene hotspots in homes worldwide and especially in Saudi Arabia – and are caused by ineffective cleaning.
(From Left: Simon Cooke, GM, Reckitt Benckiser, Prof. John Oxford, Prof. Tariq Madani)
The Hygiene Council study, which was carried out in nine countries across the globe including Saudi Arabia, illustrated that it is not necessarily how frequently cleaning takes place that matters, but rather targeting the right areas with the right cleaning methods.
According to the study, bathroom seals are the dirtiest site in homes worldwide, with over two thirds (70%) failing bacterial tests, and over half (56%) failing mould tests, despite more than a third (37%) appearing clean. This is a concern, as evidence from existing studies shows a relationship between the presence of household mould or damp and an increase in the incidence of health problems such as fungal infections, respiratory illness, asthma and allergies., , ,
The inside of fridges came a close second to bathroom seals in the contaminated hygiene hotspots stakes, with nearly half (46%) of households worldwide failing bacterial contamination tests and more than two fifths (44%) of households showing mould build up. Fridge temperatures were found to be unsatisfactory in many instances, allowing bacteria to grow to high numbers. Fridges were also found to be one of the least regularly items in the home, especially in terms of using disinfectant products such as Dettol.
In Saudi Arabian homes, the dirtiest items were bathroom seals and fridge interiors with nine out of ten (90%) of both areas found to be unsatisfactory or heavily contaminated – well above the global average. This finding was particularly surprising given the fact that the same number of people - nine out of ten householders (90%) - said that they cleaned their fridge at least once a week, with eight out of ten (80%) claiming to clean their bath or shower daily.
Furthermore, the results of the consumer survey on home hygiene in Saudi Arabia showed that four out of every five respondents said that they encountered mould in their households; with the majority of mould found in bathrooms, kitchens and around sinks.
Professor John Oxford, chairman of the Hygiene Council and Professor of Virology at Barts and the London School of Medicine & Dentistry, London, a guest speaker at today’s event, said, “Bathroom seals are the dirtiest sites in Saudi Arabian homes, as they are worldwide. Even though surfaces can often appear clean to the naked eye, it is important that people understand that mould spores in areas such as bathroom seals can have a detrimental effect on their health. This means that precautions need to be taken to reduce mould spores just as with as other bacteria that people might be more aware of.”
General purpose kitchen towels were found to be unsatisfactory or unacceptably dirty in more than a third (36%) of cases worldwide. Although more than four in ten (42%) respondents said they changed the kitchen towel daily, almost three in ten (29%) washed it below 60°C, too low a temperature to kill bacteria, especially when disinfectants such as Dettol are not added. Astonishingly, 1% of respondents said they never changed the kitchen towel.
“The study results show that certain areas in our homes are being neglected when it comes to hygiene,” said Professor Tariq Madani, Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Advisor to His Excellency the Minister of Health, Ministry of Health, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and guest speaker at the Hygiene Council meeting. “What is apparent is that people do clean, but not necessarily effectively enough by targeting specific areas with a method that works. For example, cleaning with a dirty cloth, wrong product or not thoroughly washing hands will simply spread bacteria and mould around the home, rather than killing harmful organisms. Practicing good hygiene through targeted cleaning is something we can all do to break the chain of infection.”
Globally, kettle handles were dirtier than computer keyboards (with 22% vs. 19% failing bacterial tests). In Saudi Arabia these items were the third and fourth dirtiest items in the home, with more than three times international average (75%) found to be unsatisfactory or heavily contaminated.
Worldwide, the cleanest surface tested was the push chair with only 6% failing bacterial tests. The hypothesis behind this figure is that parents, especially mothers, are usually very careful about keeping items that are in their child’s surroundings very clean and regularly disinfected.
Effective cleaning of surfaces in homes is particularly important because it was also shown that the flu virus can remain infectious for up to 24 hours on stainless steel and plastic surfaces, and for up to 48 hours on wooden surfaces.
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Hygiene Home Truths Study details
The Hygiene Council visited 180 families across nine different countries who all agreed to take part in the study. Countries which took part were the UK, USA, Germany, Canada, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Australia and India. All the homes selected had at least two children aged 10 or under, including one child under the age of two and were selected specifically to represent a cross section of socioeconomic backgrounds.
All homes in the Hygiene Home Truths Study were swabbed for both bacteria and mould; four sites for bacteria only and 2 sites for bacteria and mould.
In addition to the swab taking, the microbiologist noted how clean surfaces looked to the eye; providing a useful comparison between apparent and actual dirt levels. Participating families also completed a questionnaire to gauge their attitudes and perceptions towards hygiene in general and their cleaning behaviours.
The Hygiene Council
The Hygiene Council is an initiative bringing together leading global experts in the field of microbiology, virology, infectious diseases, immunology, and public health to formulate realistic and practical recommendations on simple hygiene measures to help the public improve levels of hygiene in the home and community and, in turn, help to prevent the spread of all kinds of infections.
For further information, please visit the Hygiene Council website at www.hygienecouncil.com.
The Hygiene Council members
· Professor John Oxford (Chair), Professor of Virology at Bart’s & The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, UK
· Professor Philip M. Tierno, Director Clinical Microbiology and Immunology, Professor, Departments of Microbiology and Pathology, New York University Medical Centre, USA
· Professor Barry D. Schoub, Executive Director, National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Johannesburg South Africa
· Dr. Sandip K. Ray, Immediate Past Secretary General, Indian Public Health Association, India and Professor of Community Medicine, Khaja Bandanawaj Institute of Medical Sciences, Gulbarga, Karnataka, India
· Dr Narendra Saini, Head of Department Microbiology & Immunology and Chairman Hospital Infection Control committee, Pushpanjali Crosslay Hospital, Vaishali, India
· Dr Christopher Lee, Head & Consultant Infectious Diseases Physician, Department of Medicine, Sungai Buloh Hospital, Malaysia
· Prof Martin Exner, Managing Director, Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, University of Bonn, Germany
· Professor Carlo Signorelli, Professor of Hygiene, University of Parma, General Secretary of the Italian Society of Hygiene, Italy
· Professor Tariq Ahmed Madani, Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Advisor to the Minister of Health, Ministry of Health, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
· Dr. Donald E. Low, Microbiologist-in-Chief at Toronto Medical Laboratories/Mount Sinai Hospital, Canada
· Dr Kgosi Letlape, Immediate past Chairman of the South African Medical Association (SAMA) and the immediate past President of the World Medical Association (WMA), South Africa
· Professor Dominic Dwyer, Clinical Professor, Immunology & Infectious Diseases, University of Sydney and Professor of Virology at Westmead Hospital, Sydney, Australia
· Joe Rubino, Director Shared Services, R&D Laboratories, Reckitt Benckiser
· Professor Eitan N Berezin, Head of Paediatric Infectious Diseases, Santa Casa University Hospital, Sao Paulo, Brazil and President of the Infectious Diseases Committee of the Brazilian Paediatrics Society, Brazil
· Dr Laura Jana, Board-certified paediatrician & parenting expert, USA
· Dr Xuhui Zhong, Attending Physician, Department of Paediatrics, Peking University First Hospital, Beijing, China