Generation of Pseudomonas aeruginosa aerosols during handwashing from contaminated sink drains, transmission to hands of hospital personnel, and its prevention by use of a new heating device

Zentralbl Hyg Umweltmed. 1991 May;191(5-6):494-505.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa was isolated from sinks of washing basins, showers, toilets and bathtubs, from the personnel and patients of a mixed infectious disease ward in a German children's hospital during a prospective 4-week epidemiological study. 81% of all sinks were contaminated with P. aeruginosa strains. Upon entering the hospital, all personnel hand cultures were P. aeruginosa-negative. However, during duty, 42.5% of the personnel members carried different P. aeruginosa strains on their hands. Detection of P. aeruginosa strains in sinks preceding the isolation of identical genotypes from personnel hands suggested a transmission route from sinks to hands. Opening of water taps generated aerosols containing P. aeruginosa sink organisms which contaminated hands during hand washing. Survival times of various P. aeruginosa strains in aerosols was dependent on strain characteristics, light and humidity, and t 1/2 differed between 3-76 min. Heating of washing basin sinks to 70 degrees C with a new, safe and inexpensive device inhibited bacterial growth in sinks, generation of P. aeruginosa aerosols, and resulted in hand cultures negative for P. aeruginosa after washing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control
  • Cross Infection / transmission*
  • Disease Reservoirs
  • Equipment Contamination*
  • Equipment and Supplies, Hospital
  • Genotype
  • Hand / microbiology*
  • Hand Disinfection
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pseudomonas Infections / prevention & control
  • Pseudomonas Infections / transmission*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / classification
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / isolation & purification*


  • Aerosols