Men’s Desks Germier Than Women’s

By Amir Khan on June 1, 2012 11:18 AM EDT

Desk
All offices are full of germs, but men's desks are particularly germy, according to a new study. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Your office may be contaminated with hundreds of different kinds of bacteria, according to a new study, published Wednesday in the journal PLoS ONE. And if you're a man, your desk is likely to be dirtier than your female coworkers.

Researchers measured the bacteria levels on phones, chairs, computer mice and keyboards from over 90 offices in New York City, San Francisco and Tucson and found over 500 different kinds of bacteria, the majority of which came from the skin, nose and mouth, researchers said.

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"We also found a surprising number of bacterial genera associated with the human digestive tract," Dr. Scott Kelley, study coauthor and associate professor of biology at San Diego State University, said, according to CBS News.

But before you reach for the hand sanitizer, there is little danger to anyone who isn't immunocompromised, researchers said. Most of the bacteria are always present and pose little, if any, risk.

"You shouldn't be worried in your own office - it's you; it's just a reflection of who you are," Kelley told MSNBC. "[The bacteria] are with us all the time, and they don't make us sick."

Men's desks were typically germier than women's, researchers found -- on average, men's desks had between 10 and 20 percent more germs. So why the difference? Not only are men bigger, so they carry more bacteria, they are also more dirty, researchers said.

"Men are known to wash their hands and brush their teeth less frequently than women, and are commonly perceived to have a more slovenly nature," the researchers wrote in the study.

New York City offices had the most germs, according to the study while San Francisco offices had the least. However, the researchers said a larger sample would have to be conducted before any conclusions could be drawn from that data.

Researchers said the study will help them establish which bacteria make people sick and which are harmless. They intend to sample more offices to get a wider sample and also look for evidence of mold, which can also cause illness.

"It's a baseline of what a healthy, normal situation is like," Kelley told the New York Times. "These were just regular office buildings, where we have no evidence that people are getting sick. But if we do have a sick building, we can now look at what's going on there."

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