Do You Work in a Petri Dish?

According to Dr. Charles Gerba from the University of Arizona - also known as “Dr. Germ” - we face health hazards every day just by going to work. He says most cold and flu viruses are transmitted when we touch the surface of something germy and then touch our eyes, nose or mouth. An office worker can touch up to 30 surfaces in one minute! Going from the keyboard, to the phone, to your PDA and beyond.

Gerba says the “dirtiest” areas include your phone and the surface of your desk. However, a recent study found para-influenza – which is a little worse than the common cold virus – on about one-third of all office surfaces. Other hotspots include the “copy” button on the Xerox machine and the elevator buttons, especially the one marked “lobby.” He says these are good surfaces to touch with your knuckle, which will help avoid transferring germs to your face until you can wash your hands. Water fountains are also a good place for germs to hide, as is the water cooler spigot. Gerba says when people are sick, they tend to drink more water.

So what’s your best defense? Well – NOT a wet paper towel! That just moves the germs around, giving them a “free ride” someplace else. Gerba says hand sanitizers are the key. They allow you to sterilize your hands at any time, and can cut your risk of getting sick in HALF! Two words are important when looking for a cleaner, sanitizing and disinfecting – those are legal terms. Don’t just get “antibacterial” items – they have no effect on viruses that cause the cold and flu. Gerba also recommends cleaning your work area with sanitizing wipes once a day. This’ll help keep you safe in that Petri dish you call an office.

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