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The Bacteria Cafe

Posted on 16 December 2004 |

The story about germs in the work place just won't go away.

In the December issue of OS magazine, AF again stars in a feature entitled, The Bacteria Cafe.

"It's a safe bet that you wouldn't eat your lunch in the toilet, so how do you feel about having a sandwich over a surface that has 400 times more germs than the average loo seat? Don't fancy it? Well if you're sitting at you desk just now, it's best to put that food away...

"Without cleaning, a small area on your desk or phone can sustain millions of bacteria that could potentially cause illness" says microbiologist Charles Gerba, part of the University of Arizona research team.

No matter how squeaky clean and healthy you are, you're unwittingly contributing to the build up of grime. Every time you breathe, moisture is created and the saliva has to settle somewhere, plus the millions of dead skin cells that we shed every day also stick to the surfaces around us.

"Today's office environment is far more vulnerable to bacteria than those of, say, ten years ago. For a start we have much more equipment now, so there are more items to attract dust, grime dirt and germs. As most of this equipment is electronic, dirt and germs are magnetically drawn to surfaces. Central heating also plays a part in creating a warm environment where germs can thrive, multiply and spread."

In another stomach turning piece of research, AOL UK analysed the 'organic debris' beneath a keyboard in a typical London office, and found that the unfortunate piece of equipment accumulated almost two grams of dirt in one month. With filthy statistics like that, it's no surprise that Chris Bratt, UK sales manager of office cleaning products specialists AF international, advises cleaning your equipment regularly. "Ideally your workstation should be cleaned every day, but that's often not possible. If you clean every other day or so, that will definitely improve the basic levels of hygiene, and is much better than never cleaning at all."

And it's important to use specially formulated cleaning products. If you think that asking the office cleaners to have a nightly dust of your desk will solve your problem, you're wrong!

"Contract cleaners often use wax-based polishes and dusters. But polishes actually seal in the germs and dusters often leave more dust than they remove," says Chris.

"I believe that the reason for the high sickness levels and absences in today's offices is down to poor levels of basic hygiene.

"Everyone has a regular cleaning routine at home, and if they brought those same standards to the workplace, it would be a much more pleasant, and germ-free environment."