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Men’s offices are muckier, it’s official

Well, it's hardly surprising that men's offices have more bacteria than women's. Using the car keys to clean out earwax isn't something we associate with women, after all.

And it's nice to know that the bacteria in New York offices is identical to that in San Francisco. It would be horrible to think of some sort of West Coast/East Coast rivalry along the same lines as hip-hop ('awwwww yeahhh, NY staph put da bass in da place', or, 'California, a place where you never find an agar plate empty….'). On a microbial level at least, US melting-pot social engineering is obviously a viral success.

But that's not the part of the report that makes you want to run screaming to the hills and hole up in a well-scrubbed cave. It's the deathly clinical accuracy of the following phrase:

the most abundant of which tended to come from human skin or the nasal, oral, or intestinal cavities


Men's offices have significantly more bacteria than women's, and the office bacterial communities of New York and San Francisco are indistinguishable, according to a study published May 30 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

"Humans are spending an increasing amount of time indoors, yet we know little about the diversity of bacteria and viruses where we live, work and play," remarks Dr. Scott Kelley, lead author on the study. "This study provides detailed baseline information about the rich bacterial communities in typical office settings and insight into the sources of these organisms."

The report includes the characterization of bacterial identity and abundance in offices in New York, San Francisco, and Tucson. The researchers, led by Scott Kelley of University of California, San Diego, identified more than 500 bacterial genera in offices in the three cities, the most abundant of which tended to come from human skin or the nasal, oral, or intestinal cavities. They also found that chairs and phones had a high abundance of bacteria, while the abundance on the desktop, keyboard, and mouse was somewhat lower.

They also found that offices inhabited by men had a higher bacterial abundance than women's, but the diversity of the communities didn't show any significant differences.

Source: Public Library of Science


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