The dangers of cell phone distractions while driving are widely publicized, but could your mobile device be a health hazard in other ways?
BREAKING NEWS — Your mobile phone may have poop on it. Yes, that’s right. That little gadget that makes you feel naked if you leave the house without it, could be harvesting E. coli and infectious diseases.
You hold it up to your face. You use it while you’re eating lunch. Maybe you even take it with you to the bathroom…
An article published in the NED Journal of Research, “Mobile Phones: Reservoir of Infectious Diseases in University Premises”, tested the phones of 367 university students, teachers, and staff members. The major findings from this study were:
- 98.6% of phones were contaminated in some way.
- Coliform bacteria were present on 69% of phones. Example: E. coli from some form of fecal matter, which may cause an upset stomach.
- Corynebacterium diphtheria was present on 51% of phones. Translation: causes diphtheria, an upper respiratory tract illness, which commonly includes a sore throat, mild fever and swelling of the tonsils, pharynx, or nasal cavity.
- Coagulase negative staphylococcus was present on 42.2% of phones. Translation: commonly found on skin and in mucus membranes, and is relatively harmless, except for those with weak immune systems.
So, what are the possible explanations for this bacteria being present?
- Not washing hands after using the restroom.
- Phone use while sick (breathing, coughing, sneezing).
- Setting the phone on contaminated surfaces (kitchen counter, bathroom counter).
- Touching an infected surface, then touching the phone (a desk, your nose, a door handle).
- Rarely or never disinfecting the phone.
- Using the device continuously for over 2 hours.
- Heat from hands and the phone itself increases bacteria, which already has the ability to live for months.
What should you take away? There are both good and bad types bacteria. Flush away bad bacteria by not taking your phone with you to the bathroom, washing your hands often, kindly not sharing your phone with someone who is sick, and by disinfecting it often (wipes work well).
Be especially careful when coworkers or peers are beginning to sniffle or complain of a sore throat. Don’t let the cold and flu season take over your campus or office this year!
Now, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a germophobe, but if germs and bacteria don’t scare you…just picture the poop.
Kahn, S. & Shaihk, A. A. (2012). Mobile Phones: Reservoir of Infectious Diseases in University Premises. NED University Journal of Research 9(1), 35-43.