The dirty details: The cash register area is one of the dirtiest areas of a store, said Philip Tierno Jr., director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University. Nearly everyone who passes through the store touches the area near checkout while they are signing their receipts. And though coins are antibacterial, Tierno said, paper money can harbor potential pathogens including skin-borne and respiratory-borne viruses once the money has worn down after it has been crumpled. Stay clean: Try not to touch the countertop, if possible, Tierno said. "If you have to touch it, then you should be aware that your hands are contaminated," he said. And don't bother using the store's hand sanitizer — after all those hands have touched it, it may be more contaminated than your own dirty hands. If you do use it, make sure you cover every part of your hands. But better to carry your own sanitizer, or use an alcohol-based wipe.
Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune
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