Hands-free does not mean germ-free, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Hospital have concluded. In fact, high-tech hands-free faucets might even be considered germy.
A study of newly installed, hands-free faucets at the Baltimore hospital indicates that they are more likely to be contaminated with one of the most common and hazardous bacteria—Legionella—than traditional faucets with hot and cold handles. Johns Hopkins researchers identified Legionella growing in 50% of samples from 20 electronic-eye faucets in or near patient rooms on three inpatient units, but in only 15% of water cultures from 20 manual faucets in the same areas, according to Johns Hopkins. Water culture results also showed half the amount of bacterial growth of any kind in the manual faucets.