News

13. 07. 15

Colonies of bacteria on mobile phones

Touchscreens on tablets computers and smartphones contain more germs than a toilet seat, according to the results of British students’ investigations.

Students at Surrey University introduced their mobile phones into Petri plates and left them for some days. After 30 analyses, results indicated that devices contained different bacteria and molds. Fortunately, most of the bacteria discovered were harmless- the most frequent was Micrococcus which also can be found on skin However, some of the bacteria found are toxic for humans, such as Staphylococcus aureus which can cause vomiting and diarrhea.


So how do bacteria get there? They are left behind as users swipe and poke the screens of their devices without previously washing their hands. A tablet computer tested by consumer group “Which?” had a count of 600 units per swab of the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. A typical toilet seat has a Staphylococcus aureus count of less than 20 units.

 

 


The team also found Enterobacteria, which can include E.coli and Salmonella spp, highly dangerous for humans. More than 1,000 units of Enterobacteria per swab were found on 8 of the 30 tablets tested and 7 of the 30 smartphones. Toilet seats have less ten units per swab.


It’s shocking that a smartphone or tablet can hold more germs than a toilet seat. That means that personal hygiene is needed. An expert microbiologist consulted by “Which?” noted that if similar high levels of bacteria were found on the hands of anyone working in the food industry, they would require immediate re-training in basic hygiene.


The presence of germs simply indicates that touchscreen users failed to wash their hands properly, and that very few people clean their devices and keyboards. Simon Park, Molecular professor, explained that this situation has to do with our physical contact with phones, our relationship with others and leaving our devices on the ground, in pockets, on countertops and desks.


Nevertheless, bacteria surround us and we are in touch with them all the time: smartphones, money, transport, playgrounds, etc. We do not see them, but they are quite close to us.  The only thing we need to do is look after our hygiene and that of the environment.

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