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17 October 2011
You probably think of yourself as a fairly decent sort of person: you have few homicidal thoughts and wash regularly. Could it be though that you might not be as clean as you would like to think? Your mobile phone might have the answer.
Researchers recently took samples from hundreds of mobile phones in cities scattered around the United Kingdom. They analysed the samples in the lab and also questioned the participants about their handwashing habits.
The results showed that people lie.
Although 95 per cent of people said that they washed their hands with soap regularly, 92 per cent of phones were contaminated with bacteria. In one city, Birmingham, 41 per cent of phones were carrying foecal bacteria. Yes, that’s right, bacteria that come from human poo. Overall, around 16 per cent of phones tested carried these foecal friends.
The tests also showed that people with foecal bacteria on their hands were three times more likely to have them on their phones as well.
Once on hands and surfaces foecal bacteria can survive for hours, especially when they are in a warm place and are not exposed to sunlight: gee that sounds like a perfect description of a handbag or pocket.
It all demonstrates yet again the absolute importance for health of regular hand-washing using soap. Other research has shown that hands that are not washed regularly carry more toxic pollutants from plastics around the home and office. Consistent hand-washing also reduces the spread of colds and flu. There is really no reason not to lather up and scrub three or four times a day and at least every time you visit the bathroom.
You might be smugly thinking that these particularly smelly results would only apply to the UK but that might just be wishful thinking. So next time someone offers you their phone to share perhaps you will think twice. After all, the research could add new meaning to the phrase “phone carrier”.