Roadkill collector…volcanic ash mud bath mixer…owl vomit collector… if you watched Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel, you’ve seen Mike Rowe tackle them all. But you don’t need to go after rare and unusual jobs in order to find grunge and caustic substances. After all, many common careers require you to roll up your sleeves and don some protective gloves before diving in.
You may not be a maggot farmer, but do you have one of the top 10 dirty jobs in the US? Take a look at where your job falls on the “grossness factor” scale:
10. Furniture Refinishers. This job sounds simple enough, but if you’re experienced at refinishing furniture, you’ll know that dissolving the surface layers of the finish can create a goopy substance that gets everywhere. Then there are the harsh chemicals that you use on a regular basis, which can eat through regular latex gloves. And if you don’t protect your hands and arms, they’ll be covered in small chemical burns before the job is done.
9. Tattoo Artists. Many people wonder why many tattoo artists wear black gloves. As a tattoo artist, you know that the gloves themselves protect you from hundreds of potential blood-borne diseases, but the black color is to cover up the mess of the job. Gloves covered with ink stains and blood wouldn’t make most clients want to come again, would they?
8. Food Handlers. There’s nothing quite as disgusting as plunging your hands into a bowl full of raw ground beef. If you’re a food handler, working with a restaurant, caterer, or food producer, you might handle anything from sloppy sauces to uncooked snails. Getting your hands dirty is all in a day’s work. These are the kind of gloves you'll need to stay safe.
7. Painters. You’ll get splattered from head to toe with paint, of course, but there’s more to the mess of the job than that. Your job involves working with solvents and isocyanates, chemicals that can irritate or burn the skin. You’ll also get covered in dust from sanding paint, which can contain heavy metals, such as lead or cadmium. Yuck!
6. Mechanics. As the stereotypical mechanic, you emerge from under a car, dripping with motor oil and covered in grease. Not only is working as a mechanic a filthy profession, you also come into contact with asbestos and other carcinogenic substances. That’s why you should make sure to use protective gear before diving under the hood.
5. Plumbers. When you think of a plumber as being a dirty job, you probably imagine exploding toilets and leaking waste lines. But don’t forget about the fact that at the end of a working day you’ll be covered in toxic glue from sealing PVC pipe, greasy pipe oil, and cobwebs from wriggling through tiny crawlspaces.
4. Janitors. Janitorial staff can run into two main sources of filth during the course of their job: the stuff they need to clean up, and the stuff they use to clean it. School janitors encounter everything from vomit to toileting accidents, and from science experiments gone wrong to remnants of lunch in the cafeteria. Janitorial staff in a hospital or medical center may need to dispose of blood-soaked bandages, needles, and once again, vomit. And all janitors come into contact with caustic chemicals, such as hydrofluoric acid, nitrilotriacetate and phosphoric acid, while cleaning floors, sinks, toilets, and all other surfaces.
3. Medical Professionals. Whether you’re an EMT, surgeon, or nurse, you’ll be getting your hands dirty with blood, mucous, and other bodily fluids. Nothing like changing bedpans and stripping afterbirth-soaked sheets to make your job the third dirtiest in America. For this, you'll need medical-grade gloves to protect yourself.
2. Oil Drillers. Imagine being covered in oil from head to toe, pulling heavy and dangerous pieces of machinery back and forth while mud and petroleum are sloshing out of them. Don’t have to imagine it? Then you must work in the oil drilling industry. One of the filthiest common occupations available in the US today, oil drillers wear full-body protection from both dangerous machinery and oceans of crud.
1. Farmers. You win the hands-down prize for the dirtiest common job in America. After all, you risk getting pooped on every time you milk a cow. Honestly, dealing with poop is a regular part of your job. And then there’s the fact that you’re willing to stick your hand inside of an animal to help it birth. Can it get more gross than that?