Dirty Little Secrets: Science reveals dirtiest locations

Dirty Little Secrets: Science reveals dirtiest locations

The five-second rule, a well-known theory used by many, states that if food tumbles down to the floor, and it is picked it up in five seconds or less then it's safe to eat.

One official offers a warning to the public: germs, bacteria and fungi don't count to five before jumping on.

"There are literally a quarter of a million varieties of bacteria, fungi and yeast," said Dr. Michael Bonner, CFO of Bonner Analytical. He knows what bacteria are thriving in almost every inch of any object.

"We test everything from blueberries, to pork sausage, to waste water and we also do indoor air quality which is studying those germs," Bonner said.

According to Bonner, South Mississippi is prime real estate for most of these organisms.

"Humidity is the key to the key to the microbial growth that occurs in South Mississippi," Bonner said.

To show how easy these organisms can be transferred Bonner tested several areas in the Pine Belt, including the WDAM Television station.

Using Q-tips soaked in sterile solution, Bonner tested the anchor desk and chairs in the studio, a keyboard, door handles and an exit button at the station. A local park slide, gas pump, public toilet seat and WDAM News Director Nick Ortego's air conditioning unit.

After waiting several days for each swab to undergo a series of dilutions, petri dishes and waiting for the bacteria to develop colonies, Bonner was able to read the results of the experiment.

The WDAM results were so low Bonner considered the areas to be clean, but he was able to determine that Ortego's air conditioning system was the dirtiest testing location.

"Bacteria counts [were] in excess of 130,000 per square inch, we had fungi in excess of 10,000 colony forming units, and we found yeast counts in excess of 25,000," Bonner said.

According to Bonner, these results are considered typical because AC units are breeding grounds for micro-organisms, especially in commercial buildings.

"A little over a half million colonies forming units per square inch for bacteria, over 400,000 colonies forming units of fungi, and we had 51,000 colonies forming units of yeast," Bonner said after testing a large scale air conditioning unit.

High efficiency air filters and UV lights can installed by heating and air professionals to prevent organisms from escaping into your home or office, according to Bonner.

Bonner said that even though these results seem frightening, the dirtiest public place was a park slide.

"The bacteria counts were 1,920, the fungi counts were 1,035, the yeast counts were 1,476," Bonner said.

Bonner said most of the organisms that were discovered through the experiment are omnipresent and non-deadly, nuisance germs.