Work From Home? Scary Warning!

If you work from home, it may be time to pull out the disinfecting wipes.

The University of Arizona's "Dr. Germ" has determined that home office surfaces are crawling with millions of bacteria that can potentially cause illness.

Dr. Charles Gerba, a.k.a. Dr. Germ, compared bacteria levels on common office surfaces in both home office and traditional office environments. The startling news is that telecommuters are teleslobs. Home office desktops harbored four times the number of bacteria than desktops in traditional offices.

The study: With funding from The Clorox Company, Gerba's team collected samples in the winter of 2007 from traditional offices and home offices in San Francisco, New York and Tucson. More than 400 surfaces were tested, and samples were analyzed at the University of Arizona laboratories.

The results: Although traditional offices were loaded with plenty of potentially harmful bacteria, home offices had more--four times as much to be exact. "Although telecommuting offers many benefits like increased productivity and morale, and, of course, the luxury of working in your pajamas, home office workers need to practice the same healthy habits as the rest of the workforce," Gerba warned. "Surprisingly high germ levels in home offices may be due to the fact that people think their homes are already clean or that the germs in their home offices are just their own and therefore harmless. But regardless of whose they are, there's a chance the germs can make you sick."

Telecommuting is rapidly growing in popularity, making this a potential public health issue. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2006 American Community Survey, nearly 5.5 million Americans worked at home, accounting for approximately 4 percent of the total workforce. Thanks to recent studies that found home-based workers to be highly productive, telecommuting rates are ever-increasing, as many employers hire new employees to telecommute right from the start.

So what can you do? Wash your hands frequently and disinfect the hard, nonporous surfaces in your office or cubicle with disinfectant wipes, which kill virtually all the germs found on office surfaces, including those that cause colds and flu.

--From the Editors at Netscape

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