Study: Your Cell Phone Is Teeming with Germs

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Your smart phone — it’s your social life, your workplace and your entertainment all in one. A new study says it’s also a festering cesspit of bacteria.

That’s right, the phone that goes with you into subways, public bathrooms and gyms — and then spends most of its time cozying up to your ears, nose and mouth — is far from clean, according to an investigation by the Wall Street Journal.

Tests of eight random mobile phones from a Chicago office found “abnormally high numbers of coliforms, a bacteria indicating fecal contamination,” reports the Journal, with about 2,700 to 4,200 units of the bacteria on each phone. (Drinking water is supposed to have less than one unit of the bacteria per half-cup.)

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Scientists say the sort of bacteria found in the study can result in flu, pinkeye or diarrhea. “People are just as likely to get sick from their phones as from handles of the bathroom,” Jeffrey Cain, the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, told the Journal.

Despite the fact that most people tote their phones everywhere, even to bed, up to this point there hasn’t been much research on what germs they carry. Still, what researchers have found is disturbing. One 2011 study that took a look at the cell phones of 100 college students found them to be “veritable reservoirs of pathogens.”

In 2010, an infection-disease expert in Australia warned that playing with iPads and iPhones at Apple stores is risky, given that germs are more easily transmitted to hands from touchscreens than many other surfaces. “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,” Peter Collignon told the Sydney Morning Herald. “Our hands can frequently have germs that can cause anything from the flu to multi-drug-resistant diseases.”

So now that you’re thoroughly grossed out, what can you do to clean your device? Some cleaners work better than others at disinfecting, but some can actually damage your beloved smart phone. Head on over to the Journal to find out more.

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