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How Dirty is Your Office Desk?

General Comments August 31st 2011

A study undertaken by the University of Arizona has shown that there are approximately 400 times more microbes of bacteria on an office desk than there are in an office toilet. Charles Gerba, a professor of soil, water and environmental sciences, tested more than 100 offices around the areas of Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Oregon, commissioned by Clorox Co. The study found that there were more than 10 million germs harbouring on the average desktop.

Another unexpected result is that women actually have more than 3-4 times more bacteria in and around their workstations than men do. There are a number of reasons for this for example that women have more interaction with children and carry make up in their pedestals, however the primary reason was that women tend to keep more snacks in their storage cupboards than men do.

Make-up and lotions, particularly hand creams are a prime example of germ transfer, as women tend to share their make-up, increasing the spread of germs. As well as this Gerba found that a staggering 75% of women had food of various kinds on their desks, providing the perfect environment for bacteria to grow.

The men are not completely innocent in this however as there were alarming numbers of bacteria found on their desks too. The main cause of this was smart phones and wallets. Men tend to play more with their phones and are more likely to pass them around.

If like me you find these figures disturbing, there are ways to combat this spread of nasty viruses and bacteria. They may seem obvious but it is surprising how little people actually do this. The most obvious is to make sure you wash your hands regularly. Keeping hand sanitizer by the desk is a good reminder to use it and making sure that you disinfect your desk regularly can reduce bacteria by 25% if used once a day.

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