A recent study conducted by Cinch Home Services calculated the amount of bacteria in an average home office, to see if the increase in remote work during the COVID-19 lockdowns last year actually prevented the spread of germs.
The group swabbed surfaces of common home office appliances, such as keyboards, computer mice and monitors, in order to calculate how much bacteria was found in different areas of the average home office.
The study found the computer mouse was the dirtiest sampled home office appliance, with an average of 4,000,000 colony-forming units (CFUs) per 10 sq. inches. A CFU represents the number of microorganisms in a test sample. In other words, a computer mouse has 5 times the amount of bacteria as a kitchen sink, which has 734,276 CFUs per 10 sq. inches.
The headset came in a distant second place, with 2,481,250 CFUs per 10 sq. inches, followed by the computer monitor at 2,000,000, the keyboard at 1,687,500, and the desk at 6,500.
“While not all of these bacteria are harmful, much of it certainly is,” the study reported. “Gram-negative rods were present in many samples, 90%-95% of which can be harmful to humans. This type of bacteria can be found anywhere and can create resistance against antibiotics. Examples of this type of bacteria include E. coli and cholera. This isn’t a reason to panic but perhaps to wipe down your equipment more regularly.”
The study also found 23% of people have not cleaned their keyboards since the start of COVID-19. It also found, despite the amount of bacteria possibly present, 9 in 10 people will still eat at least one meal per day at their desk, even though 69% of remote employees said their workspaces had the potential to carry harmful bacteria.
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