Have you heard about the "sneeze effect" that happened every time you flush the toilet? “Sneeze effect” is a term originated by Dr. Charles Gerba, a Professor from the Department of Soil Water and Environmental Science at The University of Arizona after he had conducted an experiment on the spread of bacteria in the toilet.
The research showed that each time the toilet is flushed, an invisible cloud of dirty water and fecal bacteria are projected out of the toilet bowl, dispersing up to 8 feet away. These germs and fecal bacteria can survive up to 24 hours and spread to the entire washroom in less than a minute. The bacteria will then transmit to the entire office premises like a wildfire by people who did not wash their hands after using the toilet.
Here are some unsuspecting items that are contaminated by these nasty fecal bacteria:
1. Mobile Phone
Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine reported that 1 in 6 mobile phones tested in the UK were contaminated with fecal matter! As technology becomes an important part of our daily life, it is inevitable that we bring our mobile phone along with us when carry out our businesses in the washroom. But how often do we sanitise our mobile phones? And can you imagine the amount of germs transmitted to your mouth when you speak on the phone?
2. Computer Keyboard and Mouse
When British researchers swabbed 33 keyboards in a London office, they found that the keyboards harboured up to five times the number of germ-count on a typical toilet seat. Both your keyboard and your mouse are high germs transfer points because of the amount of times we come into contact with them.
3. Coffee Cups
The research team at the University of Arizona found that 40% of coffee cups in the office pantry were contaminated with E.coli. Although it was mainly caused by germ-laden dishwashing sponges, poor hand hygiene practices also contributed to the multiplication of bacteria.
4. Working Desk
Another study by Dr. Gerba showed that most desks hosted 21,000 germs per square inch. This germs transmission is often due to the lack of hygiene and cleanliness at the desk. As we work and eat at our desk every day, we often forget to discard those food bits and crumbs, leaving a perfect condition for bacteria to grow.
Researchers at Initial Hygiene found that an average handbag is three times dirtier than the office toilet seat. The test also revealed that leather handbags are the most bacteria-riddled as the spongy texture provides the perfect conditions for bacteria to grow and spread.
6. Lift Buttons
The number of bacteria present on the lift buttons is almost 40 times higher than the public toilet seat. As up to hundreds of people share the same lifts in an office building on a daily basis, it is no wonder that the office lift is considered one of the top hygiene hotspots in the office building.
7. Door Handles
A survey showed that 62% of men and 40% of women admitted that they did not wash their hands after using the toilet. Which is why it is not shocking that all door handles harbour a host of harmful germs making it the main cause of cross contamination at the workplace.
While you can’t run away nor hide from germs and harmful bacteria, there are things you can do to minimise the spread of these nasty microbes. Stay tuned to our next article as we will be sharing some quick and easy tips to improve the hygiene standards in your workplace.