A new study claims that automated teller machines have a lot more going on than you think.
An alarming new study is claiming that automated teller machines (ATMs) are a lot more gross than we thought they were. Microbes from all sorts of life forms ranging from fish to chicken could be foun don the surfaces of ATM keypads throughout New York City, and it’s all thanks to the bacteria that lives on human skin.
The study, published in the American Society for Microbiology, catalogued the huge number of different microbes and bacteria that can be found on places where human hands often touch, like ATM keypads, according to a statement from the society. It demonstrates the reality that surrounds us, which is that bacteria is everywhere and there’s no avoiding it, unless you stay at home and wrap yourself up in saran wrap.
For the ATM study, researchers took swabs of 66 keypads in eight neighborhoods in New York City in the summer of 2014, and then used DNA sequencing to determine the content of the samples. They then created an “average” profile of microbes created by hundreds of people touching the machine each day.
“Our results suggest that ATM keypads integrate microbes from different sources, including the human microbiome, foods, and potentially novel environmental organisms adapted to air or surfaces,” said senior study author Jane M. Carlton, PhD, director of the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, and professor of biology, at New York University. “DNA obtained from ATM keypads may therefore provide a record of both human behavior and environmental sources of microbes.”
The statement continues: “The most common identified sources of microbes on the keypads were household surfaces such as televisions, restrooms, kitchens and pillows. Researchers found microbes from bony fish and mollusks, and from chicken on some neighborhood ATMs, suggesting that residual DNA from a meal may remain on a person’s hands and be transferred to the ATM keypad upon use.
“ATM keypads located in laundromats and stores had the highest number of biomarkers, with the most prominent being Lactobacillales (lactic acid bacteria), which is usually found in decomposing plants or milk products. In samples from Manhattan, researchers observed the biomarker Xeromyces bisporus, a foodborne mold associated with spoiled baked goods.”