You may want to treat yourself to lunch out today: New research suggests your office kitchenette is crawling with filth. Particularly gross are the handles of the fridge, microwave and sink faucet, which may have you reaching for the latex gloves – or cleaning supplies, since your office cleaning staff clearly haven't bothered.
The researchers swabbed roughly 5,000 surfaces at law firms, call centres and health care companies, among other offices home to a total of 3,000 grubby-pawed employees. They measured for adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which shows up in surfaces coated with organic residue, including mould cells. Readings of more than 300 are full-on dirty, meaning high risk of spreading illness.
Fair warning, the study is funded by Kimberly-Clark Professional, a "market leader in professional health and hygiene solutions," and recommends slathering everything in your cubicle with sanitizer. Still, the findings are disappointing from a basic hygiene standpoint.
Office spaces with ATP readings of more than 300 include:
• 75 per cent of break room sink faucet handles
• 48 per cent of microwave door handles
• 26 per cent of refrigerator door handles
• 23 per cent of water fountain buttons
• 21 per cent of vending machine buttons
"A lot of people are aware of the risk of germs in the restroom, but areas like break rooms have not received the same degree of attention," lamented study consultant Charles Gerba, professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona.
What does your office kitchenette look like? Share your horror stories in the comments.