One of today’s Forum topics: a discussion about the Bay Citizen’s report on the germs found on BART. The online news site recently commissioned a supervisor at San Francisco State University’s biology lab to analyze the “bacterial content of a random BART seat.” The findings:

Fecal and skin-borne bacteria resistant to antibiotics were found in a seat on a train headed from Daly City to Dublin/Pleasanton. Further testing on the skin-borne bacteria showed characteristics of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, the drug-resistant bacterium that causes potentially lethal infections, although Franklin cautioned that the MRSA findings were preliminary.

High concentrations of at least nine bacteria strains and several types of mold were found on the seat. Even after Franklin cleaned the cushion with an alcohol wipe, potentially harmful bacteria were found growing in the fabric…

Sounds highly yucky. But not to worry. There’s bacteria everywhere, of course. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to welcome it with open epidermis. We asked Darleen Franklin, the lab supervisor who performed the bacterial study, what the bottom line is when it comes to BART germs. She prescribed some common-sense precautions:

Well said. And look: I myself was so impressed with Ms. Franklin’s approach to hygiene that I even agreed to shake this professional germ-handler’s hand:

You can listen to the entire Forum segment here:

Video: Keeping Germs at Bay on BART 8 March,2011Jon Brooks


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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