From AI to CRISPR, we learned some truly startling realities on day two of BTYSTE 2018.

Among the participants at 2018’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE) was a team from Castleknock Community College in Dublin, which revealed some startling facts about the cleanliness of our pedestrian-crossing buttons.

Commonly touched items such as pedestrian crossings can become breeding grounds for bacteria, passing on a myriad of illnesses.

The team of Alison Egan, Caoimhe Harrington and Áine Morgan first decided to do the project after they witnessed a man touch a pedestrian button and then proceed to touch his ear, likely spreading bacteria.

By taking swabs from six different crossing buttons across Dublin, they were able to collate their samples and send them off to a lab in University College Dublin. They found that they contained, among others, staphylococcus and diphtheroid bacilli.

Words by Colm Gorey