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Filth Finder: Germs lurking on gas station pumps

We used the Filth Finder to test Valley gas pumps and got some of the highest scores we've seen yet.

PHOENIX - While prices at the gas pump are getting painful, it turns out there are a lot of other nasty things we encounter every time we fill up the tank.

Unless you’re driving a plug-in or a Tesla, you have to fill up with gas – and that means touching the gas pumps – you and everyone else.

We used the Filth Finder to test them all over the Valley. The Filth Finder tests for organic material, like skin cells, bacteria and viruses. We swab an item, break the top, and pop it into the device. A score over 30 is considered dirty, and a disinfecting wipe can usually get an object into safe range.

First up, we tested the gas pump handle, which came up with a score of 521. Remember, that’s more than 17 times the limit.

Next, we checked the keypad, where you enter your pin number. The score was a staggering 2,822. At another gas station, it was even worse. The keypad there scored 3,655.

The last gas pump we tested was the worst by far. Just the pump handle came in at 2,005. The keypad: 5,947. That’s almost 200 times the limit.

We did find that the keypads with real buttons were worse than the ones with flat panels.

Physician Andrew Carroll says that’s not surprising, considering those keypads are rarely, if ever, wiped down.

“Since there are so many more nooks and crannies that bacteria can probably hide out in easier, whereas the flat pad is more likely to be wiped easily,” he said.

If you’re concerned, Carroll suggests using your knuckles on the buttons. But regardless, you should probably carry some hand sanitizer when you fill up.


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