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The differences between dominant and non-dominant hands were probably due to environmental conditions like oil production, salinity, moisture or variable environmental surfaces touched by either hand of an individual, Fierer said.
Knight said the researchers hope to repeat the experiment in other countries where different hands are assigned specific tasks.
While the researchers stressed the importance of regular hand washing, they also noted that washing did not eliminate bacteria.
"Either the bacterial colonies rapidly re-establish after hand washing, or washing (as practiced by the students included in this study) does not remove the majority of bacteria taxa found on the skin surface," the researchers said in their report.
While the tests could determine how many different types of bacteria were present, they could not count the total amount of bacteria on each hand.
The research was funded primarily by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.
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