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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Germs abound in class, UA study finds”

    Teachers probably won’t be thrilled to know there are hundreds of times more bacteria on their desks than on a toilet seat.

    A study conducted by the UA found that teachers are more exposed to germs than any other profession in America.

    The “”occupation study,”” headed by Chuck Gerba, UA professor of environmental microbiology, found that teachers have the germiest jobs out of the nine professions studied.

    The study was funded with a $35,000 grant given to the UA from The Clorox Company.

    To conduct the study, researchers took samples of bacteria from locations like desks, phones, pens and keyboards in offices of teachers, bankers, accountants, radio DJs, television producers, doctors, consultants, lawyers and publicists from Tucson to New York, Gerba said.

    Stephanie A. Boone, an environmental microbiology research specialist who wrote up the report, said the researchers chose certain professions to study because they were easy to obtain samples from.

    “”It was more about accessibility,”” Boone said. “”We know teachers, we had access to banks.””

    Although thousands of bacteria per square inch were found on almost all the surfaces studied, teachers’ equipment was at the top of the list for germs, with two to 20 times more bacteria than any other profession.

    The dirtiest spot in any of the locations studied was a teacher’s keyboard, with an average of 95,600 germs per square inch, which is more than 26 times the amount of germs found on a radio DJ’s – whose keyboard was the second dirtiest for an occupation at 3,600 germs per square inch, according to the Germiest Jobs report.

    Gerba attributed the high amount of bacteria on keyboards to the fact that they are rarely washed and frequently eaten next to.

    “”(When you eat over a keyboard) you usually get a bagel-flake snowstorm,”” Gerba said.

    UA students said they guessed that teachers’ environments are so germy because of the bad hygiene habits of the children they work with.

    Nicole Woodrick, a psychology sophomore, said while working with children she has observed their disregard for cleanliness.

    “”Kids don’t wash their hands, and all they want to do is give you hugs all the time,”” Woodrick said. “”Not to mention that nasty playground equipment that I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole.””

    Gerba said that anyone who works at a desk or uses a keyboard or mouse should take simple precautions like washing their hands and using disinfectant wipes to eliminate germs and reduce the risk of disease transmission and illness.

    Gerba also said desks should be wiped down once a day with a disinfectant or cleaner because simply using water gives the germs a “”free ride.””

    If a sink isn’t available, Gerba said “”alcohol gel”” hand sanitizers have proven to be extremely effective in reducing illness, and can even cut rates of absenteeism in students by 30 to 50 percent.

    Gerba also advised people to consider the decision he made after observing the extremely high rate of bacteria on school pencil sharpeners.

    “”I bought all my grandchildren mechanical pencils,”” Gerba said.

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