Toxic fume from engine exhaust is not the only way your car can damage your health. Recent research has revealed that not cleaning the car seats and dashboards could make these surfaces a breeding ground for disease causing bacteria.
Scientific analysis of the swabs taken from sample cars at Halfords in the United Kingdom revealed the presence of two types of bacteria linked with food poisoning and skin infections like impetigo. Both these bacterial infections are contagious and were found on the steering wheel, the door handles, the gear shift and the front and rear dashboards, says an article published in the Telegraph, UK.
The tests, which were carried out as part of a project by Halfords, a leading retailer of car parts, car enhancements and bicycles operating in the United Kingdom, showed the presence of the staphylococcus bacteria responsible for skin rashes, on door handles, radio control buttons and below the seats.
The other variety of bacteria called Bacillus Cereus was mainly found on the gear shift knob, car mats and below the seats. Researchers believe that these bacteria entered the car via the shoes worn by the occupants.
The article quotes Dr. Anthony Hilton, reader in microbiology at Aston University, to suggest that not all bacteria found while testing the car interiors were harmful. He likened eating off a car dashboard to eating from a toilet seat as the bacterial infection from both cases was pretty much similar.
Halford also conducted a survey of the drivers and found that more than half of those questioned only cleaned the interiors less than once a month. What's more, the same proportion admitted to having split food or drink in their vehicles at least once a month.
Dr. Hilton warned that with warmer weather likely for the next few months, it is important for people to ensure that they do not leave food debris in the car, as doing so is an open invitation to the bacteria that can thrive even on tiny crumbs.
He suggests a simple solution to the problem. Those who eat in your car must treat it as an extension of their homes and maintain levels of hygiene that they normally would in the dining rooms.