Bearded scientists: Will they kill us all?

This image comes from “Microbiological laboratory hazard of bearded men," a peer-reviewed research paper concerning the risk bearded scientists who work with bacteria and viruses might pose to their families. Published in 1967, the study tested whether bearded men were more likely to accidentally "carry" microbes home with them.

You can read the whole study online. And thank God for that. Because it's full of more great out-of-context quotes than I have time to cut and paste today.

Conclusion: Dirty hippie scientists shouldn't normally be a threat to family and friends. However, accidental beard-based contamination is possible, if the bearded scientist in question does a lot of repetitive, close-contact work with microbes. (Read: Grad students) In which case, those scientists should really wash their beards before they leave the lab.

Thanks, David Ng!


  1. There are special masks you can wear that seal all around your beard..I can’t seem to find an image of it at the moment, but it’s kind of like a thin hat with two ties that cross over your face, covering the entire beard.  We have to use it in healthcare for sterile procedures (the usual stock mask that comes in the kits is lifted off the face by the beard so isn’t adequate), you see them a lot in the operating room.

  2. Them thar menfolk look lahk Muzzlems–arrest ’em and send ’em to Gitmo! Where’s Dick Cheney’s phone number?!?

    1. Agreed. Henceforth, every scientist or technician, regardless of gender, must bathe head to toe in NAIR before entering any laboratory facility.

  3. Ah! So much much fun! One of my students submitted this for a study critique in my quantitative research methods class last fall. Woot!

  4. At least they aren’t wearing ties.  Wasn’t there an earlier article on nastiness transmitted via doctors’ neckties?

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