It travels with you everywhere you go – frequently cosying up to your ears, nose and mouth after resting on the nearest available surface. It contains some of your most vital information. Some even say their whole life is on theirs. Now, a recent study revealed that apart from your data and dirty secrets it also carries 18 times more germs than the flusher of a men’s loo.
And you thought the only health risk of your shiny smart phone was frying your brain with cancer-causing radiation.
Oh no! Digital viruses from dodgy websites are not the only hazard you’re exposed to from mishandling your phone.
The Wall Street Journal recently published a study showing that the average mobile device is covered in E.coli, Salmonella and Staph bacteria, which can result in flu, vomiting, pink eye, fever and diarrhoea.
The study found about 2 700 to 4 200 units of bacteria on the average cellphone, at least 30 percent of which end up on users’ hands, mouth, ears and nose. Compare that to drinking water, which should have less than two units of bacteria per cup.
Think about it. Our cellphones have become a ubiquitous extension of our reach, exposed to everything we are, but without the luxury of washing their hands.
And we often let other people touch them when we share the latest meme or cute cat video.
“You wouldn’t have hundreds of people using the same glass or cup, but theoretically, if hundreds of people share the same keyboard or touchpad, then effectively that’s what you’re doing,” said health expert Peter Collignon in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Germs thrive in warm places; and not only does your smartphone generate its own heat, but it also warms up with the help of body-heat in your hands and pockets. Jeffry Can, the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians told the Wall Street Journal that “people are just as likely to get sick from their phones as from handles of the bathroom”.
It’s no surprise then that students at South University in Columbia found rampant contamination with the flesh-eating antibiotic-resistant Staph bacteria after swabbing a sample of 60 handsets. Staph skin infections can quickly turn into painful abscesses. The bacteria can also burrow deeper into the body, causing potentially life-threatening infections in bones, joints, surgical wounds, the bloodstream, heart valves and lungs.
So now that you’re thoroughly grossed out, what can be done to clean up the cesspit of bacteria that is your cellphone?
To start with, always wash your hands and wipe your precious device with anti-bacterial wipes.
Swab the nooks and crannies with rubbing alcohol; and there’s a nifty product called Wireless Wipes that disinfects phones without harming them.
Clean out more than your inbox. It makes for healthier cellphone connections.