Gas pump germs: regular or premium?
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Mar 17, 2020
Emma Jarratt

As COVID-19 forces us to rethink hygiene, a study shows EV chargers are cleaner than gas pumps

What you touch to charge your car. Number is the average in colony-forming units (CFU). Source Busbud

As COVID-19 forces us to rethink hygiene, a study shows EV chargers are cleaner than gas pumps

Sometimes there are “did you knows?” you simply do not want the answers to.

For instance, did you know the average gas station pump handle has nearly 200 per cent more germs and bacteria on it than the average toilet seat?

Or that 71 per cent of gas pump handles are considered “highly contaminated” with illness-carrying microbes, according to a 2015 study from the Kimberly-Clark Corporation?

Or that on average, a “regular” fuel button has over a million more germs on it than its “premium” counterpart?

No? Well, now you do.

If nothing else the global coronavirus pandemic is forcing humanity to take a second look at hygiene best practices.

Gas station germs by fueling type. Source Busbud
Gas station germs by fueling type. Source: Busbud

While no one has been found to have contracted COVID-19 at the pumps there is enough germ-laden grime caking these very public pieces of infrastructure to make a compelling case that, when it comes to driving, going electric is cleaner in more ways than one.

Tests run at EmLab P&K Laboratories with results published by Busbud show that public gas pumps are home to five million more “colony forming units” than public electric chargers. And while customers are free to wash their hands, grab a wet wipe or – prior to the global shortage – use a squirt of hand sanitizer post pump; it’s unlikely one will avoid all of the 14.5 million germs and bacteria lurking at your average pit stop.

Public vs. Private

Data shows the overwhelming majority of EV charging happens at home. Imagine, the inherent advantage of being able to socially distance yourself from service stations.

Not only are you making an eco-friendly choice with your carbon footprint, you are also making yourself E.-Coli-unfriendly in the process.

Nevertheless, sometimes having to charge on the go is unavoidable. Still, you are better off at a plug than a pump. Not only are there fewer handle germs, but new charging units often allow for touchless tap on your phone. (Don’t forget to clean that device if you have any desire for good health.) The argument for choosing a vehicle that will help you be green rather than turn green is definitely food for thought while millions of us shelter in place to ride out the unprecedented global pandemic.

With an indefinite term of house arrest yawning ahead, many will fill their time with armchair travel, Netflix or browse online for an EV. But one day we will all return to the road. So whether you are in a gas guzzler or cruising in an electric ride, it would be remiss to not repeat the PSA heard around the world: wash your hands after each use!

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