As incandescent bulbs go the way of the fax machine, CFLs are becoming an office fixture. Although they're certainly greener, they can be meaner when it comes to your skin: A study done at the State University of New York at Stony Brook found that tiny cracks in CFL coatings allow the bulbs to emit UVC rays, which can damage epidermal cells at close range. In other words, overhead fluorescents are A-OK, but you should rethink your desk lamp. "Sitting within 2 feet of this type of bulb for lengthy periods could be harmful," says lead study author Miriam Rafailovich, PhD.
While budget-cutting corporations squeeze more and more from their employees, it's not surprising that nine-to-fivers (read: nine-to-niners) are more stressed than ever. But women seem to have it worse. Twenty percent of us report that our stress level is above an 8 (out of 10), compared with 16 percent of men, according to the American Psychological Association. And 43 percent of women say their stress is on the rise. That kind of chronic stress raises heart rate, blood pressure and levels of inflammationall risk factors for heart disease, says Suzanne Steinbaum, DO, director of women's heart health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
Silicon Valley-inspired open floor plans are meant to encourage collaboration. But they also tend to generate a steady hum of distractions, as chatter, rings and pings travel freely through the airy space. One 2014 study found that workers lost up to 86 minutes of productivity a day due to various interruptions. "Every time you're disturbed, you must not only let go of the distraction but then reconnect with the original subject of attention," explains John Weaver, PsyD, a psychologist in Waukesha, Wis. This process just adds extra stress to your day.
On average, we spend more than half our waking hours staring at electronic devicesa habit that can affect more than your neck. A 2014 Japanese study found that office workers who were parked in front of a computer for most of the day experienced a reduction in their tear fluid, a typical symptom of dry eye. (Ouch.) This is partly because we tend to blink less when we gaze at a screen. Poorly lubricated peepers can lead to strain, irritation and blurry vision.
American workers maintain good posture for a little more than a third of their workday, studies show. The rest of the time, let's just say we're not sitting pretty. "Aside from back pain, slouching causes a slowdown in digestion and circulation," says Brad Thomas, MD, founding partner of Beach Cities Orthopedics in Manhattan Beach, Calif. It can even affect your mental state. A study in Health Psychology found that people who slumped while working under pressure had more negative thoughts than those who sat up straight.
When you grab a juice from the pantry, you may pick up more than kale-beet. Researchers at the University of Arizona found that an employee sick with a cold, the flu or a stomach bug will likely contaminate the fridge door, microwave and coffeepot within two hours!