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Ford Finds That Your Car May Be A Rolling Petri Dish

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On: Fri, Nov 2, 2012 at 12:12PM | By: Chris Weiss

Ford Finds That Your Car May Be A Rolling Petri Dish

TV hosts wielding black lights have long turned our stomachs in regard to the glaring lack of cleanliness in hotel rooms. Ford shows us that germs and disease are lurking much closer to home. In a recent study with the University of Michigan, Ford found that the vehicle is essentially a four-wheeled orgy of microorganisms.

Ford studied 10 individual areas of the car, including steering wheels, radio buttons, door handles, window switches and gear shift knobs, collecting samples from employee and company vehicles. It found evidence of bacteria growth in most locations, with the highest concentrations around the cup holder and on the steering wheel.

While unsettling to read about, Ford's findings aren't all that surprising. The steering wheel is where you keep your hands - the same hands you use to open bathroom doors, pet your dog, blow your nose, etc. The greater cup holder area may just have sticky, sun-reduced Coke syrup from three years ago.

"We weren't surprised to find microbial hot spots on the steering wheel, since that is where a driver's hands are most of the time," explained Cindy Peters, a Ford technical expert. "The console area near the cup holders is a common location for spilled drinks, so it provides an ideal feeding ground for microbes."

Ford says that the microbes can discolor materials and cause unwanted odors. According to market research firm Mintel, consumers spend some $2.3 billion on vehicle air fresheners each year.

Ford is working to reduce the amount of bacteria in its cars by testing coatings that could limit microbial growth. It has found particular success when coating parts with paint that includes the antimicrobial Agion additive. Ford is now testing the paint in several development vehicles and may add it to production.


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