Recent studies have proved that washing hands, especially after digging in beach sand, could effectively reduce exposure to microbes that cause gastrointestinal illnesses.
"Our mothers were right! Cleaning our hands before eating really works, especially after handling sand at the beach," said Dr. Richard Whitman, the lead author of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study. "Simply rinsing hands may help reduce risk, but a good scrubbing is the best way to avoid illness."
For this study, scientists measured how many E. coli bacteria could be transferred to people's hands when they dug in sand.
Ingestion of all material on the entire hand would result in 33 of 1000 individuals developing gastrointestinal illness.
In a further laboratory experiment, scientists determined that submerging one's hands four times in clean water removed more than 99 percent of the E. coli and associated viruses from the hands.