Top 9 Jobs Where Bacteria Thrive
Teachers Lead the List, Followed by Accountants and Bankers
WebMD News Archive
Feb. 16, 2006 -- A new survey shows which office-based jobs host the most
Here is the list, going from careers with the most to least germs on
- Radio DJ
- Television producer
University of Arizona microbiologist Charles Gerba, PhD, and colleagues did
the dirty work. The Clorox Company funded the study and reported the results.
These findings are part of a large research project by Gerba on "Germs in
Average bacteria per square inch of workspace surfaces ranged from 17,800
for teachers to 900 for lawyers, according to the report, which doesn't specify
which bacteria were found.
4 Spots Where Bacteria Lurk
Phones are the workplace's top spots for bacteria, according to Gerba's
team. Next are desks, computer keyboards, and computer "mice."
Many office workers eat at their desks, munching on lunch or snacking as
they churn through their chores. That habit may be convenient, but it can be a
"Desks are really bacteria cafeterias," Gerba says, in the news
release. "They're breakfast buffets, lunch tables, and snack bars, as we
spend more and more hours at the office."
Still, Gerba's team found fewer bacteria in offices than they had in past
studies. "We were pleased to find a decrease in bacteria levels," Gerba
says, in a news release. "Perhaps people are becoming more aware of germs
in their office and doing something about it."
Results from previous research from "Germs in the Workplace" found
that when disinfecting wipes are used as directed, up to 99.9% of germs are
The researchers visited workers' offices, swabbing desks, phones, and
computers for bacteria. They sampled an average of 11 cubicles or offices at
each location, for a total of 616 surfaces.
Workers were told not to tidy up in advance. "In fact, they were asked
not to alter their regular workday routines, from eating at their desks to
cleaning," the report states.
There were some differences among the offices Gerba's team toured:
- Teachers' phones, keyboards, and computer "mice" had the most
- Accountants' desks had the most germs of any desks sampled.
- Lawyers had the least germy desks.
- Publicists had the least germy phones.
- Bankers had the least germy keyboards.
- TV producers had the least germy computer "mice."
"Surfaces regularly used by teachers, accountants, and bankers harbored
nearly two to 20 times more bacteria per square inch when compared to other
professions," the report states.