You’ve heard that germs are everywhere and even live in our bodies. You may be cleaning your place of work thinking about all the places where they could be hiding.
Are they on the walls? Underneath the chairs? How many germs are on your hands?
You may have wondered where do germs come from. Here we’re going to take a deeper look into the world of microbiology that exists all around us.
What is a Germ?
The word ‘germ’ is not actually a scientific term but it refers to the microscopic life forms that inhabit the world. This includes different species from the virus, bacteria, protists, and fungus kingdoms.
Generally speaking, it has a very negative connotation given that they can cause nasty infections and disease outbreaks.
However, they have a very sophisticated and important relationship with animals and plants. Life, as we know it on this planet, would not be possible if there were no germs.
What Does a Germ Look Like?
Scientists that study these types of organisms are called microbiologists. Antony van Leeuwenhoek, the father of microbiology, was the first to partially know the answer to that question when he observed bacteria with a microscope during the 17th century.
The truth is that germs are comprised of diverse groups of life that come in many sizes and shapes. They can circular, rod-shaped, spiraled, and any and everything in between. Certain viruses have a beautiful protein shell that forms an icosahedron, a spherical shape consisting of 20 identical triangles.
We know this thanks to an array of advances in the field of microbiology. Namely, electron microscopes have enabled us to picture germs and the structures they possess.
Where Do Germs Come From?
So, we know that germs exist virtually everywhere but how did they get there?
This is a question has been studied and debated for since before people even truly understood what they were.
It was once commonly thought that people who were sick were afflicted with evil spirits. When germs were first discovered some believed in the theory of spontaneous generation, which stated that germs could simply pop into existence from thin air.
The currently accepted version is that they gradually developed over time from inorganic molecules billions of years ago. But that’s a discussion for another day.
Although germs exist naturally, bacteria, virus, fungi, and other microbes can cause serious problems when they are allowed to uncontrollably replicate. For this and other reasons, it is best to have a nice, clean workplace.
Some facilities, such as dialysis clinics or urgent care, have an even higher need to prevent contamination. But the workplaces of many other types of industries could be made safer by controlling germ populations.
Now that we know a little more about what we’re dealing with, let’s take a look into where problematic germs may be concentrated in your place of work.
1) The Body
Do you know how many germs are on your hands alone? At any given time there are more than 3000 bacteria representing over 100 species. Though this may seem like a lot it pales in comparison with the number of bacteria living inside you.
The number of bacteria that inhabit your gastrointestinal system is greater than the number of cells that make up your entire body.
Fortunately, the bacteria in our GI tract shouldn’t come into contact with others in normal circumstances. Still, people have bacteria on the skin and nasal secretions that could potentially harm someone, especially a person with a compromised immune system.
The ventilation and cooling systems are frequently guilty of inadvertently harboring and dispersing germs through the air. They can cause infections that are difficult to treat, such as pneumonia.
This is particularly true of the curtains seen in hospitals and clinics used to separate patients and provide privacy. But even in other types of offices and buildings, the curtains are rarely cleaned and make a good host for bacteria that survive within the fabric.
4) Faucets and Drinking Fountains
We know that germs like to live on our hands and mouths. So we can imagine how the things we touch and that come into contact with our face could become ridden with viruses and bacteria.
School water fountains and faucets are at an increased risk because they are shared by everybody and the presence of water itself favors bacteria.
Different pieces of furniture such as chairs and hospital beds can be contaminated and may be difficult to clean.
Telephones are clearly a possible source of infection. People touch them with their hands holding them close to their face for prolonged periods of time.
Routinely disinfecting phones is an effective way to reduce the risk of infection.
Elevators are an often overlooked hiding spot for germs. They are a small, confined space shared by everybody. Also, they require the users to push buttons to operate it.
8) Kitchen Appliances
Do you know how long cold germs can live on surfaces? The answer is about seven days.
Most workplaces have a kitchen area or lounge where employees can share meals. Although this is, of course, better than eating and working in the same place many types of germs can be found here.
Specifically, the buttons and handle on the microwave and the refrigerator can become particularly nasty. Also, any leftover morsel food can cause a surge in pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria and mold.
9) Keyboards and Computers
This should not come as too much of surprise to anything. The keyboards we use every day are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
Obviously, we touch them with our hands all day and the little crevices between the keys are hard to clean. But this isn’t one part of the clean up you want to overlook.
Again, no real surprise here but the floors house all types of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Sure, most floors are washed once a day but it might not be enough.
You might your remove shoes when you enter your house but at work, everybody is tracking whatever they may have stepped in.
Get Your Germs Under Control
We’ve talked a little about what germs are and where they can be found inside the workplace.
So, where do germs come from? Now that you know how to answer that question you can begin to tackle the problem.
But don’t do it alone. Cleaning experts with years of experience dealing with all types of germs can have your workplace safe and clean.