31 October 2010

Mythbusters- Well this was surprising!

So there's a show on TV(unaware if it shows in India) that aims to bust or confirm modern day myths. I was reading up on whether is it truly necessary to wash the tops cans of soda to prevent possible death from rat piss. Yes, it's a disgusting thought, but more than it being disgusting I was wondering if there was any truth to it. I mean, you were probably not aware of it till I just told you, and probably have drunk a huge number of soda cans too. And you didn't die... Now that I have your curiousity:

Find below the myth and the conclusion...


Drinking from a can of soda on which a rat has urinated can be fatal, due to pathogens contained in the urine.


Adam and Jamie began with a control sample of 1,000 cans, cleaning their tops and turning a pack of rats loose for 90 minutes to urinate on them. They discovered that the urine would fluoresce under black light, then collected 1,000 cans from various locations and storage areas around San Francisco. To their surprise, a large number of these cans showed apparent contamination under the light; they took swabs from the tops and sent them to Stanford University for chemical analysis, which revealed only harmless dust. Since no rat urine was on the cans, and since any pathogens ingested with the soda would almost certainly be rendered harmless in the digestive tract, Adam and Jamie classified the myth as busted.

So that's your questions answered: but while I was reading through the article guess what else I found that frankly surprised me!


Some common household items are dirtier than a toilet seat, in terms of number and/or type of germs they carry.


Adam and Jamie selected several items that might carry large amounts of germs, including a toilet seat for comparison. They swabbed a small area of each item, dipped the swabs in liquid growth medium, and transferred the mixtures to agar plates. After the samples were incubated overnight, they were analyzed to determine the number of germ colonies. Results were as follows:
  • Toilet seat - 2
  • Cell phone - 6
  • Shopping cart handle - 10
  • Hotel room TV remote - 44
  • Computer keyboard - 65
  • Light switch - 332
  • Paper money - 936
  • Kitchen sponge - Too many to count

In descending order, the sponge, money, light switch, and keyboard were found to have the highest numbers of dangerous germs. Adam and Jamie recruited a college class to take swabs from 10 of each item, again including 10 toilet seats for comparison, and incubated them as before. This time, the ranking (in descending order of average germ count) was: sponge, money, keyboard, toilet seat, light switch. Because some items did have more germs than the toilet seats, the myth was labeled as confirmed.

Yes, I too think Harpic needs to change it's advertising strategy.


Stagg Mann said...

Interesting to know, but why or how would a rat end up pissing on top of a soda can? And here is another fact for you- toilet water contains less germs than the drinking water they serve at fast food chains like KFC and McD.

Saro said...

Well they'd get access to soda cans, when they're left at a storage of a supermarket chain :) Really? Where was that from?