by: Mark Hinchliffe
From: The Courier-Mail
October 28, 2011 1:00AM
FUELLING your car could be making you sick – and not because of the price of petrol.
The nozzles we use to fill up the tank have joined the range of everyday items that are seen as dangerous breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses, the Courier-Mail reported.
Levels on nozzle handles are worse than escalator rails, parking meters, pedestrian buttons on traffic signals and handles on mailboxes, a US study by Kimberly-Clark Professional found.
Infectious diseases expert Flavia Huygens, an associate professor at QUT, warned Australian fuel pump handles could harbour the dangerous superbug methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and she wants service stations to provide alcohol wipes for customers.
Assoc Prof Huygens reviewed a study conducted on Japanese public trains that isolated and identified MRSA, which is highly resistant to antibiotic therapy.
She said the bug could lurk on public areas people touched, particularly on fuel pump handles which are in use all day.
“It’s highly likely with fuel pumps because this superbug is transmitted by skin contact and hand-to-mouth contact,” she said.
Assoc Prof Huygens advised motorists to wash their hands after using a fuel pump and called on service stations to provide alcohol wipes.
Motor Trades Association of Queensland spokesman Richard Payne said there was no particular industry procedures for the hygiene of fuel pump handles.
“It’s up to the individual service stations,” he said. “BP has hand wipes at diesel pumps and consumers should take advantage of hand wipes that are available.”
RACQ spokesman Steve Spalding said diesel pumps were not kept clean enough and suggested disposable plastic gloves could be provided as they were in many European service stations at diesel pumps.
“A disposable glove would cost service stations a few cents and when you look at that against what the customer is spending on a tank of fuel, it’s a small cost to bear,” he said.