London: Next time you use the lift, you might want to wash your hands.
A typical elevator button harbours nearly 40 times as many germs as a public toilet seat, scientists have found.
A study carried out in hotels, restaurants, banks, offices and airports found 313 ‘colony forming units' of bacteria on every square centimetre of lift button.
The equivalent surface area of a toilet seat had only eight units.
The bacteria on the lift buttons could include stomach bugs such as E.coli, the researchers say.
Dr Nicholas Moon, from Microban Europe, which carried out the research for the University of Arizona in the US, said: "Even if the buttons are cleaned regularly, the potential for the build up of bacteria is high."
But Professor Hugh Pennington, one of Britain's leading microbiologists, said: "Just because there are bacteria on a lift button it doesn't mean they are harmful to your health.
"The best way to protect yourself is to wash your hands before you eat or handle food."