While owners of electric cars may not want to touch a gas pump because of what comes out of it, there may be a reason for everyone else to be concerned too.

Objects that are regularly handled by a lot of people tend to gather germs, and gas pumps are handled by many, many people on a daily basis.

So when it comes to dirtiness, how does the average gas pump compare to other everyday items people come in contact with?

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It may just be the "germiest" item in America, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A recent study by Kimberly-Clark professionals looked at suspected germ hot spots as part of the company's Healthy Workplace Project.

Hygienists swabbed different areas, and the samples were then analyzed by a team including University of Arizona microbiologist Dr. Charles Gerba.

Known as "Dr. Germ," Gerba found that 71 percent of gas-pump handles sampled were "highly contaminated" with the kinds of germs most associated with a high risk of illness.

Corner-mailbox handles were the second-most contaminated at 68 percent. Other potential germ hazard zones included ATM buttons (41 percent contamination) and escalator railings (43 percent).

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Other areas germaphobes may want to avoid included parking meters and kiosks--with about 40 percent contamination--and crosswalk buttons and vending machines, which were tied at 35 percent.

To combat all of those ambient germs, Kimberly-Clark advises washing hands multiple times during the day, and cleaning work stations and computer keyboards and mice regularly.

BMW ActiveE electric car at closed NJ gas station after Hurricane Sandy [photo: Tom Moloughney]

BMW ActiveE electric car at closed NJ gas station after Hurricane Sandy [photo: Tom Moloughney]

It's worth noting here that Kimberly-Clark has a vested interest in highlighting germy objects: It sells disinfectant wipes for personal use.

In the case of gas pumps, though, electric-car drivers have a much simpler solution.

Apparently a benefit of ditching gasoline is one less germ-ridden surface to worry about.

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It's just one more way owning an electric car could potentially improve your health.

Another one: Anecdotal evidence suggests that not having to stop at gas stations makes quitting smoking easier.

Just taking the smoker away from a regular source of temptation in the form of readily-available cigarettes can reduce the temptation to buy another pack.

[hat tip: Dave Tuttle]


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