Research conducted in 2002 by Dr. Charles Gerba (Microbiology Dept., Arizona
University) reported that the average desk is home to 20,961 germs per square inch,
alarming considering that the normal office toilet harbours 400 times less
per square inch.
Why less? Toilets need to be cleaned on a regular basis for hygienic reasons...
office desks are not regularly cleaned since most office equipment is off limits to
cleaning staff. Our warm working environment provides an ideal breeding ground
for microbes which are moistened & circulated by office air conditioning (i.e. dead
skin flakes, sweat, viruses & airborne microbes brought in from outdoors or generated indoors).
Whether the office looks clean or not, germs thrive on door handles,
photocopiers, keyboards and water fountains. Sensitive computers, keyboards &
screens result in little cleaning effort applied to them. Germs can be resilient
blighters - while some viruses last for only a few seconds or days out of the body,
bacteria & fungi can last a long time. Bacterial spores such as Bacillus Anthracis
(causes anthrax) can last for years and are resiliant to organic solvents, boiling,
ultraviolet irradiation & drying.
Gerba's study determined that the main transmitter of germs was the telephone
receiver, where 66% of viruses and 39% of bacteria were passed from there.
Streptococcus (a germ that causes pneumonia) is one of the bacterium that is
carried in the throat, and can be expelled when we sneeze or spray the office
environment. The second main germ transmitter is door handles (each square inch
of skin harbours an average of 1,000,000 bacteria - predominantly transported by
our hands). While the vast majority of bacteria are harmless, too many can cause
disease - so clean up your act! And the next time you think of taking a drink to your
office desk, make sure it's a “Bug Light”.
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