Petrol pump handles could be prime source of viral bugs like coronavirus, motorists warned

Motorists are being urged to disinfect their hands after using petrol pumps (Photo: Select Car Leasing)
Motorists are being urged to disinfect their hands after using petrol pumps (Photo: Select Car Leasing)

Motorists are being urged to disinfect their hands after using petrol pumps, due to the risk of contracting viruses that could be lurking on the handles.

While it is common for motorists to use fuel pumps on a daily basis, experts are warning that such contact could put them at risk of a number of nasty bugs - including coronavirus.

Spreading infection

The current coronavirus outbreak threatens to become a pandemic, with more than 74,000 cases now confirmed across the globe.

In a bid to contain the spread, experts are urging motorists to be more vigilant with hand hygiene, particularly when handling fuel pumps.

There is much scientific data that points to fuel pumps as being potent virus carriers, says Mark Tongue, of Select Car Leasing.

He commented, “How many of us bother to wear the protective, disposable gloves available on most forecourts when filling up?

“And how many of us also fill up our tanks before heading into the shop to buy a bag of crisps, a sandwich, or a pasty, before eating the snacks in our vehicles?

“Habits like these leave us highly vulnerable to becoming very unwell indeed. And, at this critical time, we’d urge drivers to disinfect their hands after visiting the petrol pumps and be sure not to touch your face after doing so.”

Coronavirus is easily spread through the touching of objects or surfaces (Photo: Select Car Leasing)

How is coronavirus spread?

Coronaviruses are most commonly spread from an infected person to others through the following means:

the air by coughing and sneezing

close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands

touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands

fecal contamination, although this is rare

Coronavirus typically causes a respiratory infection along with mild to severe flu-like symptoms, which can include a runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat and fever.

If you have a weakened immune system, a viral infection can quickly progress to a life-threatening lower-respiratory infection, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.

With the virus easily spread through the touching of objects or surfaces, contact with petrol pumps could potentially put you at risk of infection.

Mr Tongue added, “Studies have shown that the coronavirus can survive on surfaces, without a human host, for an average of four to five days.

“In some cases it can persist on surfaces, and remain infectious at room temperature, for up to nine days. That gives it ample opportunity to multiply and thrive on greasy, dirt-attracting substances like fuel pumps.

“And the same goes for pathogens that cause standard flu, which can survive on hard surfaces for around 24 hours.

“I’d urge motorists to keep a pack of disinfectant wipes in the car so you can clean your hands – and any surfaces you might have touched – immediately after you fill up. Or, at the very least, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly when your journey is finished.”