The World We Live in Has Become More Germy, Not Less

Unlike 100 years ago, we spend most of our time indoors (~80%) and work in larger and larger buildings, stadiums, cruise ships, malls, etc. Thus we touch more surfaces in a day that other people have touched than any other generation in history. Thus, surfaces (fomites) play an increasing role in the spread of common infections. The world we live in has become more germy –  not less.
Almost 90% of all common infections (colds, flus, diarrhea) can be spread through the environment – i.e., soil, water, food and fomites.
In studying the movement of viruses in offices a virus placed on an entrance doorknob to an office building will appear on ~50% of the office workers’  hands and commonly touched surfaces in four hours.


The germest areas in the office are phone, desk top and computer equipment. In the home it is the sponge, sink, cutting board. Cleanest is the top of a toilet seat.

Charles P. Gerba, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized environmental microbiologist and Professor of Environmental Microbiology in the Departments of Microbiology and Immunology, and Soil, Water and Environmental Science, at the University of Arizona. His credentials include a B.A. in Microbiology, Arizona State University, 1969, and a Ph.D. in Microbiology, University of Miami, Florida, 1973. He is also a member of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Dr. Gerba has authored more than 400 articles including several text books in environmental microbiology and pollution science. He actively conducts research on the development of new disinfectants and drinking water treatment processes, new methods for the detection of pathogens, and microbial risk assessment. He was a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Committee on the development of the "Guide Standard and Protocol for Testing Microbiological Water Purifiers," which forms the basis for testing the performance of water treatment devices used for outdoor recreation. He is a member of the U.S. EPA's Science Advisory Board Committees on Drinking Water and Research Strategies.

The public knows Dr. Gerba best for his crusading on behalf of household hygiene. He has made frequent media appearances, including Good Morning America, Today, and Dateline, and has been quoted numerous times in international and national reports, magazines and newspapers.