Gender germ wars: Guess whose offices are grimier?
- Blog Post by: Colleen Stoxen
- May 31, 2012 - 12:08 PM
Most people spend a large chunk of their day parked in front of a computer. While they type away, office workers shed millions of bacteria. Who are the worst offenders? The men, a new study suggests.
"We know that there are bacteria everywhere, but we really don't know which kinds and what their main sources are," study researcher Scott Kelly, from the University of San Diego, told LiveScience. "We spend so much time in our offices, and we know so little about the microbes that live in them."
Now we do. Kelly and his colleagues found high levels of bacteria from human skin and mucus membranes, as well as tons of bacteria from plants and soil. The researchers also found tons of bacteria on phones and chair armrests. Desktops, keyboards and computer mice were somewhat cleaner. "These surfaces are pretty inert. You are getting mostly what you are putting out or shedding, or what's blowing in through the door and window," Kelly said. "It's harmless; you bring it in with you."
Of particular interest, the bacteria levels the researchers found depended on the gender of the office occupant. "The surfaces inhabited by men tended to have more bacterial cells and more abundance of cells than those inhabited by women," Kelly said.
The researchers have two suggestions of why this might be. First, men are frequently larger than women, so they have more surface area to grow bacteria, and therefore shed more bacteria into their environment. Second, studies have shown that men are just dirtier than women; they don’t wash their hands or brush their teeth nearly as often. This could be the cause of their extra dirty offices, the researchers said.
Read more from Live Science.
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