The average worker's desk is contaminated with more germs than a toilet seat, according to a University of Arizona study.
The report, by University of Arizona microbiologist Dr. Charles Gerba, says that there are about 400 times the number germs at computer workstations in the US than there are on a toilet seat.
The dirtiest spot on the desktop is the phone, the report said, where about 25,127 microbes live per square inch. The next filthiest area is the desk surface, where 20,961 invisible nasties can be found living and breathing on every square inch.
Keyboards have somewhere in the region of 3,295 germs per square inch, followed by the mouse, fax machine and photo copier, which respectively have 1,676; 301; and 69 germs swarming across every square inch. Other unclean areas are water fountain handles and microwave door handles, the study noted.
To put the figures in perspective, the average toilet seat in America has some 49 germs per square inch.
According to Dr. Gerba, desktops have become sullied partly because they have turned into tables where workers eat lunches and breakfasts. This, combined with the fact that desks are not frequently cleaned in the same fashion as tables, makes them the perfect cafeteria for micro-organisms.
"We don't think twice about eating at our desks, even though the average desk has 100 times more bacteria than a kitchen table and 400 times more bacteria than the average toilet," Gerba has said. "Without cleaning, a small area on your desk or phone can sustain millions of bacteria that could potentially cause illness."
What's more, office workers infected with a cold or flu bug pollute the workplace further each time they touch common items like photocopiers or the microwave. Such surfaces, according to Dr. Gerba, can become germ transfer points for viruses and germs for up to 72 hours.