Where your phone goes, germs go

We know you do it. You take your cell into the bathroom with you. And it’s coming out with more than just a low battery.

We all do it. We do it because we need something to read or perhaps to escape for some peace and quiet, to play a quick game or simply because we are bored.

Among the many places our cellphones travel with us, we take them into the bathroom. Yet many of us don’t realize that our cellphones often come out of the restroom with more than just a low battery.

Numerous studies have shown that there’s a good chance your phone is contaminated with bacteria — some of them dangerous. One 2011 study swabbed the cellphones of 100 college students and discovered them to be “veritable reservoirs of pathogens” that can make you sick.

Another said there’s a one in six chance your cellphone has fecal matter on it.

So we took it to the source. No, not the public restroom. We asked the Norton Healthcare lab to swab my personal cellphone, which doubles as my family’s camera, a portable gym buddy, kids’ toy and — yes, restroom reading material.

The results were a little underwelming.

Alan Junkins, Ph.D., chief of microbiology, Norton Healthcare, said that my phone was covered with germs, but “nothing too dangerous.”

While my phone showed no signs of fecal matter or deadly bacteria, Junkins adds a word of caution.

“Those germs mean you definitely transfer bacteria from your skin to your phone,” Junkins said. “If somebody’s not too clean post-potty break or after sneezing and coughing into their hands, then their phone could hang onto those bugs a while.”

Research shows that some germs are good though. So what should we do? Junkins has a simple solution.

“Always start with proper hand hygiene. Hand washing, especially after using the restroom, is one of the most effective ways to avoid passing germs to others or to your technology,” he said.

Just remember, if touch your dirty phone after you wash your hands, your hands are dirty again. Maybe it’s best to keep the phone out of the bathroom? Just sayin’.


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