Potty purses: What's on your bag? - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Potty purses: What's on your bag?

(Source: KFVS) (Source: KFVS)

Students use them to hold books and many women take one everywhere they go.

Bags can be handy to have, but they could be carrying more than just the essentials.

Heartland News tested a number of bags with the help of some biology students at Southeast Missouri State University. 

Testers used swabs to collect samples from the bottom of purses and backpacks.

The samples were placed in an incubator for two days to allow the bacteria to grow. 

“You're going to pick up the dust, but you're also going to pick up the dirt from the bottom of the shoe that gets tracked around,” Dr. Jim Champine said. 

Dr. Champine is a professor and the Chairman of the Biology Department at Southeast Missouri State University.

After two days, the samples reveal a substantial amount of bacteria growing on the bags ranging in color and size.

“Some of them have a lot of small white colonies and those are usually the strep and staph bacteria,” Dr. Champine said. “You got to remember there's lots of micro-organisms out there. Swab any skin after you get out of the shower, you're still going to have that normal flora...bacteria on the skin protecting you from other harmful bacteria.”

That is true, but the investigation found more than just dirt and dust.

It also spotted traces of fecal matter and e. coli.

“The dark purple ones are likely from fecal sources,” Dr. Champine said. “There's even one that has a shiny green cast to it which is indicative to e. coli.”

Dr. Champine said everybody has e. coli in their large intestine, but most of the time it is not going to hurt you.

About of a third of the samples had a substantial amount of fecal matter with small traces of fecal matter found on some of the others.

“You could pick it up from the floor of a bathroom. It is probably going to get contaminated to a small amount and then there's the whole issue of hand washing,” Dr. Champine said.

Dr. Champine recommends washing your purse or backpack at least once or twice a month. 

If it is not washing machine friendly, there are cleaning kits for leather bags.

You could also use an antibacterial wipe.

Dr. Champine said make sure to clean the handle.

In the end, he had one big take away.

“You wouldn't put your tennis shoes on the table,” Dr Champine said.  “So you shouldn't put your backpack or purse on the dinner table either.”

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