In a study on bacteria levels found in male/female offices published in the journal PLoS ONE and funded by Clorox that reviewed various offices in San Francisco, New York and Tucson, offices occupied by men are found to harbor more germs and bacteria than offices occupied by women.
The University of California, San Diego researchers found that there were 500 different genera of bacteria in the offices, with most coming from the people themselves — from their skin, nose, mouth and intestines. There was also more bacteria on chairs and phones, compared with the mouse, desktop and keyboard.
Interestingly, researchers found that the kinds of bacteria living in the offices in Tucson were different from those in New York and San Francisco; however, the bacteria living in the New York and San Francisco offices were “indistinguishable,” the researchers wrote.
A study conducted by Kimberly-Clark Professional and Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, showed that office break rooms are also high in bacteria.
The study researchers were aiming to obtain the levels of adenosine triphosphate found in animal, mold, yeast, bacteria and vegetable cells. ATP levels give an idea of how many microorganisms are present on a surface.
While the study didn’t directly relate bacteria levels to illness, a higher ATP level “indicates that there’s more bacteria, so the odds are certainly greater that you might come across an organism that may make you sick,” said study researcher Gerba.
They found that surfaces in office break rooms — like microwave door handles and water fountain buttons — as well as keyboards harbor the most germs and bacteria.