It’s the 21st century and office tech is commonplace. We go to our offices and get swiped in with electronic badges, we sit at our desks and use mice and track pads to navigate our computers, and we place calls on our cell phones. After handling all these tech items, we grab a sandwich and eat lunch at our desks with the same hands that have been touching all these office items. The question is, when was the last time any of these tech items were cleaned? Sure, we may wipe down the desk surface occasionally, but how about our computer mouse? CBT Nuggets, an IT training company, decided to see what was lurking on our office tech, and what they found might make you a little queasy.
There are four common types of bacteria that tend to make their way into our lives, three of which can make us sick: 1) Gram-positive cocci, which, among other things, can cause skin infections and bacterial pneumonia; 2) gram-positive rods, which are almost all harmful to humans and can be antibiotic-resistant; 3) bacilli, which are found in soil and are a mixed bag of harmful and helpful bacteria; and 4) gram-negative rods, which are generally harmless to humans.
A team of experts swabbed common office tech items and analyzed the results. Surprisingly, the dirtiest item of all was the electronic badge. Perhaps because it’s not an item one would usually think of cleaning, or because it goes through many hands or swipe stations, the ID badge had more than a million more CFUs (colony-forming units) per square inch (4,620,000) than its nearest tech competitor. To compare, your dog’s pet toy has about 19,000 CFUs per square inch, making your badge potentially 243 times more bacteria-laden than Bowser’s saliva-covered chew bone. Only about 13 percent of the bacteria found on the badge were of the harmless gram-negative rod variety. The remaining bacteria were all potential disease carriers.
The second dirtiest office desk item tested was the keyboard, which came in at 3,543,000 CFUs per square inch, or approximately 20,000 times dirtier than your toilet seat. About a third of the bacteria on the keyboard were harmless gram-negative rods, leaving two-thirds of the germs potentially worrisome.
Next up, the cell phone. The phone, which admittedly splits its time between office and home, had 1,600,082 CFUs per square inch. That’s 31,000 times the bacteria on your typical pen, which has about 51 CFUs per square inch. The breakdown was about a third each of the potentially harmful bacteria, with very little harmless gram-negative rods present.
Mouse users came in fourth, at 1,370,068 CFUs per square inch, 45,000 times dirtier than a toilet handle, which has 30 CFUs per square inch. A little over 40 percent of the mouse bacteria were harmless gram-negative rods. The rest was potentially harmful.
Finally, track pad users were the safest, with only 810 CFUs per square inch, although that is still 162 times as dirty as money. Plus, almost all of the bacteria were of the potentially harmful variety…