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Taipei's ATM machines a breeding ground for germs

A recent survey found that the ATM machines are breeding grounds for germs as the keypad contains tens of thousands of germs and mold.

The National Yangming University and Super Laboratory Co. surveyed 38 ATM machines in the metropolitan Taipei area last year. Most of the machines are located in residential areas and about 63 percent are indoor.

The survey found that each key on an ATM keyboard contains 1,200 germs on average. Therefore, those who are using the ATM machine will bring home thousands of germs after each transition. And the number of germs grew slightly at an outdoor ATM machine with 1,600 per keypad, while an indoor keypad has some 965 germs.

According to the survey, over 60 percent of the germs are Gram-positive and about 25 percent are various types of molds. A more alarming sign is that a CNS type of Gram-positive germ found on the ATM machines is antibiotic-resistant.

Researchers from Super Laboratory suggested banks to sterilize ATM machines at least twice daily for the indoor ones and three times daily for outdoor ones.

Researchers cautioned that public phones and the computer keyboards at Internet cafes are also breeding grounds for germs and molds. Those who tend to rub their eyes or faces after using this equipment are more prone to develop skin infections and irritations.

Previous surveys showed that a public phone receiver contains over 100,000 germs and a computer keyboard has at least 70,000 germs per key.

Doctors said washing hands frequently with soap is the only way to get rid of the germs and viruses. Liquid soap and sterilized wet napkins can also help fend off germs.

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