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Infection Control

Where the germs are

May 24, 2012
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ROSWELL, GA — If you thought the restroom was the epicenter of workplace germs, you don''t want to know about office break rooms and kitchens, according to a press release.

The place where U.S. workers eat and prepare their lunch topped the list of office germ "hotspots," with sink and microwave door handles the dirtiest surfaces touched by office workers on a daily basis, the release stated.

Hygienists from Kimberly-Clark Professional''s The Healthy Workplace Project collected nearly 5,000 individual swabs from office buildings housing more than 3,000 employees, representing a broad cross-section of office "types" including manufacturing facilities, law firms, insurance companies, healthcare companies and call centers, the release noted.

The findings are from a study carried out by Kimberly-Clark Professional and is believed to be one of the most detailed and comprehensive studies ever conducted on identifying workplace hotspots where germs can lurk, the release added.

According to the release, the percentage of the office surfaces tested and found to have high levels of contamination (an adenosine triphosphate (ATP) count of 300 or higher), includes:

• 75 percent of break room sink faucet handles
• 48 percent of microwave door handles
• 27 percent of keyboards
• 26 percent of refrigerator door handles
• 23 percent of water fountain buttons
• 21 percent of vending machine buttons.

"People are aware of the risk of germs in the restroom, but areas like break rooms have not received the same degree of attention," said Dr. Charles Gerba, professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona.

"This study demonstrates that contamination can be spread throughout the workplace when office workers heat up lunch, make coffee or simply type on their keyboards," Gerba added.

Click here to read the complete release.

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