How Gross Are Subway Seats, Really?

Photographed by Angela Pham.
Let's get this out of the way — germs are all around us. Specifically, they're inside us, surrounding us, and, of course, they've set up camp on our phones' screens. That said, we seem to be especially squeamish about the germs we encounter out in the world, particularly on public transportation. But, are the microbes that share our commute actually more dangerous?

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A new study investigated that question by testing the seats, walls, and poles in cars from three different lines on the Boston subway system. The tests found that all of these surfaces were covered in microbes (contain your shock), but they weren't the kind of microbes that are harmful to people. In fact, most of what the researchers found exist in or on our bodies already (and, in some cases, in greater quantities).

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Most of these germs are spread by touch, sneezing, or through people's clothes. But, no matter how they ended up on that pole you're holding, there's a slim chance they'll actually hurt or infect you. "Healthy people do not need to be worried," study author and PhD student Tiffany Hsu told Shape.

Hsu explained that those germs that already live inside and around us are pretty good at keeping "bad" bacteria at bay. But, she added that we may still want to wash our hands once we reach our stop — you know, just in case.

Click through to Shape for more on staying healthy while on the go. (Shape)

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