How Accurate is Your ‘Yuck’ Reflex?

How Accurate is Your ‘Yuck’ Reflex?

Rotten eggs, skunk smell, grandma’s house – these are all things associated with making your nose cower in fear.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing (sorry, your nose has to take one for the team). Miryam Z. Wahrman, a biology professor at William Paterson University, says that yuck detector “can influence behaviour, and it can encourage us to make healthy choices.”

Just how accurate is a yuck reflex? These are everyday items you typically encounter, which your ‘ew’ senses may – or may not – be able to pick up astutely.


Your Cellphone

Your cellphone has it all – an alarm clock, GPS, social media, your news source – and especially germs.

“A cellphone is such a personal object that when you borrow somebody’s cellphone, you’re really sharing a lot of germs,” Wahrman said.

Not only are other people’s phones a highway to bacteria, your own phone is a germ magnet as well. Think about it – you carry it to the bathroom, lunchroom, around the office, out in public. It goes everywhere you go.

Try to clean your cell regularly using alcohol wipes, and be diligent about washing your hands when you’re going from place to place with phone in hand.


Your Commuting Route

The buses and trains you take to work carry a lot more passengers than you think: they’re filled with all sorts of bacteria and germs from all over the city. Take the New York subway system, for example (yes, we used New York to cheat) – it’s home to 1,688 different life forms.

“This is good news for biologists, who will not be running out of research subjects anytime soon,” Wahrman sneers in her book.

 Around 12% of that bacterium is disease inducing, while a whopping 57% can lead to disease in people with weaker immune systems. Most of the bacteria comes from human skin, the gut, and in the urogenital tract. That’s some serious yuck factor.


The Office

Any office has a ton of areas for bacteria to breed: your chair, phone, computer, and mouse can be infested. One study found offices can typically carry up to 500 different types of bacterium! If that’s not bad enough, they normally come from people’s skin, nose, mouth and…intestinal cavities.

Besides washing your hands and cleaning your workspace regularly, one simple fix is to buy a keyboard cover. “They are inexpensive, easy to clean, and wipe down,” says Melissa Hawkins, director of American University’s Public Health Scholars Program. “They also add a layer of protection against spills.”


The Grocery Store

The handles of shopping carts at your local grocery store are riddled with bacteria. It’s not hard to see why. Between the dozens of hands that the cart will be exchanged between with throughout the day, plus the foods shoppers handle, the cart handles are filthy.

Plastic wrap around raw meats are another grocery store area that can be contaminated, leading to food poisoning. Kids can be especially susceptible to this (thanks to their proclivity for putting their hands in their mouths), so keep raw meat and chicken packages out of their hands!

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