Latin America Cleans Up with Hand Washing World Record

This sure beats a big bottle of Purell.

Latin America set a New Guinness World Record for the most people washing their hands at the same time. According to the Pan American Health Organization, 740,870 people cleaned their hands simultaneously in different corners of Latin America in October. Guinness certified the world record this week.

The public health organization said three countries in particular – Peru, Argentina and Mexico – mobilized thousands of students to take part in the event, which highlighted the importance of hand washing in school and coincided with Global Handwashing Day.

The last record holder for handwashing was Bangladesh, which brought together 52,970 people in 2009 to wash their hands at the same time.

Earlier this month, Guinness judges travelled to each of the countries to review documents – witnesses had to fill out registration forms, log times and count people.

PAHO, working with the World Health Organization, have been working together to set the record to promote sanitation and hygiene. About 3.5 million children under 5 die from living in unsanitary conditions.

According to the group, washing one’s hands with soap and water is one of the most economical and effective measures for preventing infectious diseases. A recent survey by Global School-based Health said more than 15 percent of school children said they never or rarely wash their hands before eating in the past 30 days.

The organization also encourages a certain technique when washing hands: rub hands together, palm to palm; washing the back of the hand and the spaces between fingers; washing the back of the fingers, including the nails; and also rubbing both thumbs and wrists.

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