Heading to the office break room for lunch? A new study suggests giving it a good cleaning first. While coexisting with microbes is a necessary fact of life, here are the top six germ hotspots in your office, according to a new study announced Wednesday.
Backed by American cleaning and paper product manufacturer Kimberly-Clark Professional, the study researchers swabbed some 4,800 surfaces in office buildings, such as law firms and health care companies, housing some 3,000 employees.
"The swabs were run through a device that measures Adenosine Triphosphate, or ATP, the energy molecule found in all animal, plant, bacteria, yeast, and mold cells. When the device reads 100 or more, the surface could use a good scrubbing, according to the release. Higher readings, such as 300 or more, and you've got some serious contamination on your hands with increased risks for transmitting illnesses, the researchers say.
Germ hotspots in the office with readings of 300 or more include:
• 75 percent of break room sink-faucet handles
• 48 percent of microwave door handles
• 27 percent of keyboards
• 26 percent of refrigerator door handles
• 23 percent of water fountain buttons
• 21 percent of vending machine buttons
Places in your office that "could be cleaner," with readings of more than 100:
• 91 percent of break room sink-faucet handles
• 80 percent of microwave door handles
• 69 percent of keyboards
• 69 percent of refrigerator door handles
• 53 percent of water fountain buttons
• 51 percent of computer mice
• 51 percent of desk phones
• 48 percent of coffee pots and dispensers
• 43 percent of vending machine buttons
"People are aware of the risk of germs in the restroom, but areas like break rooms have not received the same degree of attention," Charles Gerba, a University of Arizona professor known as "Dr. Germ" because of his controversial, high-profile studies on germs and household surfaces, says in a release.
"This study demonstrates that contamination can be spread throughout the workplace when office workers heat up lunch, make coffee, or simply type on their keyboards."