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Your Mobile Phone Is 10 Times Dirtier Than Toilet Seat

Most people don’t give a second thought
to using their cell phone everywhere, from
their morning commute to the dinner table
to the market to the doctor’s office. But
research shows that cell phones are far
dirtier than most people think, and the
more germs they collect, the more germs
you touch.
In fact, your own hand is the biggest
culprit when it comes to putting filth on
your phone. Americans check their phones
about 47 times per day, according to a
survey by Deloitte, which affords plenty of
opportunities for microorganisms to move
from your fingers to your phone.
“Because people are always carrying their
cell phones even in situations where they
would normally wash their hands before
doing anything, cell phones do tend to get
pretty gross,” says Emily Martin, assistant
professor of epidemiology at the University
Of Michigan School Of Public Health.
Research has varied on just how many
germs are crawling on the average cell
phone, but a recent study found more than
17,000 bacterial gene copies on the
phones of high school students. Scientists
at the University of Arizona have found
that cell phones carry 10 times more
bacteria than most toilet seats.
Human skin is naturally covered in
microbes that don’t usually have any
negative health consequences, and that
natural bacteria, plus the oils on your
hands, get passed on to your phone every
time you check a text or send an email. It
follows that m ost of the organisms found
on phones are not pathogens that will
make you sick, Martin says.
Staphylococcus might be present, for
example, but it’s not typically the kind
that will give you a staph infection.
But some bacteria should concern you.
“We’re not walking through a sterile
environment, so if you touch a surface
there could be something on that,” says
Susan Whittier, director of clinical
microbiology at New York-Presbyterian and
Columbia University Medical Center. “There
are lots of environmental contaminants.”
Studies have found serious pathogens on
cell phones, including Streptococcus, MRSA
and even E. coli. Just having these
microbes on your phone won’t
automatically make you sick, Whittier says,
but you still don’t want to let them enter
your system. Viruses can also spread on
phones if one person is sick with strep
throat or influenza and coughs on their
cell phone before handing it off to a
friend.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to avoid
some germs. One of the worst places to
use your phone is in the bathroom, Martin
and Whittier both agree. When toilets
flush, they spread germs everywhere, which
is how phones end up with fecal bacteria
like E. coli. “Taking a cell phone into the
bathroom and then leaving with it is kind
of like going in, not washing your hands
and then coming back out,” Martin said.
“It’s the same level of concern.”

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