Top 9 Jobs Where Bacteria Thrive

Teachers Lead the List, Followed by Accountants and Bankers

Medically Reviewed by Ann Edmundson, MD, PhD

Feb. 16, 2006 -- A new survey shows which office-based jobs host the mostbacteria.

Here is the list, going from careers with the most to least germs onworkspace surfaces:

  1. Teacher
  2. Accountant
  3. Banker
  4. Radio DJ
  5. Doctor
  6. Television producer
  7. Consultant
  8. Publicist
  9. Lawyer

University of Arizona microbiologist Charles Gerba, PhD, and colleagues didthe 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 inthe Workplace."

Average bacteria per square inch of workspace surfaces ranged from 17,800for teachers to 900 for lawyers, according to the report, which doesn't specifywhich bacteria were found.

4 Spots Where Bacteria Lurk

Phones are the workplace's top spots for bacteria, according to Gerba'steam. Next are desks, computer keyboards, and computer "mice."

Many office workers eat at their desks, munching on lunch or snacking asthey churn through their chores. That habit may be convenient, but it can be abacteria magnet.

"Desks are really bacteria cafeterias," Gerba says, in the newsrelease. "They're breakfast buffets, lunch tables, and snack bars, as wespend more and more hours at the office."

Still, Gerba's team found fewer bacteria in offices than they had in paststudies. "We were pleased to find a decrease in bacteria levels," Gerbasays, in a news release. "Perhaps people are becoming more aware of germsin their office and doing something about it."

Results from previous research from "Germs in the Workplace" foundthat when disinfecting wipes are used as directed, up to 99.9% of germs areeliminated.

Dirty Business

The researchers visited workers' offices, swabbing desks, phones, andcomputers for bacteria. They sampled an average of 11 cubicles or offices ateach location, for a total of 616 surfaces.

Workers were told not to tidy up in advance. "In fact, they were askednot to alter their regular workday routines, from eating at their desks tocleaning," the report states.

There were some differences among the offices Gerba's team toured:

  • Teachers' phones, keyboards, and computer "mice" had the mostgerms.
  • 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 harborednearly two to 20 times more bacteria per square inch when compared to otherprofessions," the report states.

Show Sources

SOURCES: The Clorox Company, "Office Germs Research 2006 Results." News release, The Clorox Company.

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