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Top stories this week include this: Some Beards Contain More Poo Than a Toilet. Is this true?

  • After you do this, maybe compare beards to smartphones and tablets ... According to another post here, they also lose to toilets. – GEdgar May 5 '15 at 17:49
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    @GEdgar But you hold your phone up to your face. Obviously, smartphones get dirty from touching beards. It's the only explanation. – KSmarts May 6 '15 at 16:59
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There is a bit more information in an article by The Atlantic.

A news team "swabbed the whiskers of a handful of local men and took the results to Quest Diagnostics".

This wasn't a study. They don't report their selection/sampling method or their sample contamination-prevention protocols.

The article even goes on to ask a good skeptical question: "But are these results typical? Are they limited to these few unfortunate Albuquerqueans?"

They conclude that "there probably is some truth to the idea that a beard, like any other body part, can get pretty funky if you let it" and that washing it well is good enough.

Not surprising (at least to me) beards do shed more bacteria if rustled than clean shaven skin. (The effect of facial hair and sex on the dispersal of bacteria below a masked subject.)

The Guardian also did a followup to this story:

While it is true that human faeces are partially composed of gut bacteria, it’s not accurate to describe those bacteria on their own as faeces.

Further, even if this was a properly conducted scientific study with a large number of samples and published in a reputable journal, there wouldn’t necessarily be any cause for concern.

Human skin is home to great diversity of microbes, and it’s not unheard of for types of bacteria normally found in the gut, such as E. coli, to be also found on the skin.

If some beards have more poo in them than toilets, the samples that were the source of the recent news didn't show that and it was disingenuous to report that there is poo in beards.

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