Friday, October 13, 2006
How Your Cubicle Can Make You Sick
The article at the link below is targeted at IT people, but can apply to anyone who works in a cubicle and uses phones or computer equpment. Between 5 to 20 percent of Americans catch the flu every year, and about 80 percent of those flu cases are contracted through an infected object. Phones, keyboards and mice are among the dirtiest objects in your vicinity, so watch out. Since a few numbers are worth a thousand words, and since morbid statistics are always such fun to quote anyway, here are some figures that will tell you how dirty these tools really are:
1) Phones - 26,127 germs per square inch
2) Desktop surface - 20,961 germs PSI
3) Keyboard - 3,295 germs PSI
4) Mouse - 1,676 germs PSI
5) Fax machine - 301 germs PSI
6) Copy machine - 69 germs PSI
7) Toilet seat - 49 germs PSI
Notice how clean toilet seats are compared to the contents of your cubicle. Phones, of course, come into contact with your face, your breath, your mouth and hands. It's no wonder that they're so dirty. In contrast, one of the major factors that contributes to the unsanitary conditions of desktops, keyboards and mice is that they come into contact with food and drink whenever you take coffee breaks, lunch, breakfast or even your supper at your desk. Why do you eat at your desk, do you think? You know the answer to that. It's because your whip-cracking work schedule won't give you the time you need to eat and drink in the lounge or the cafeteria. The oppressive time constraints imposed by your bosses are therefore directly responsible for putting your health at risk.
Barring a hygienic mutiny at your workplace anytime soon, you are stuck with this repellent bio-pollution of your own little micro-infrastructure. How can you protect yourself against it? The article suggests wiping down everything with disinfectant on a regular basis. It also describes a new family of office products that are covered with "silver ion" or "nano silver", a high tech coating with anti-microbial properties. Some of the makes and models of cellphones, keyboards and mice that utilize such coatings are listed at the end of the article.
"Why phones, keyboards and mice make me sick" from Computerworld