What? A cellphone in the bathroom? Do people really do that? If you're honest, you have probably taken yours with you to read something on Facebook or watch a video while spending some quality time alone in the bathroom. What you probably don't know is that you weren't really alone, and that you were bringing hitchhikers out with you on your phone.
The unfettered use of smartphones is creating a new problem. Bacteria that is normally only found in the restroom is being seen more and more elsewhere. Studies are showing that these bacteria are on both cell phones and hands, raising concerns as to how the bacteria got there. Listed below are the four most commonly found bacteria on cell phones.
1. E. coli - A study done by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found that 16 percent of cell phones tested had E. coli bacteria on them. Of course, 16 percent of the hands they tested also had the same bacteria, leading researchers to conclude that individuals had not washed their hands well after using the bathroom or that they had handled their phone with the hand they had wiped with before washing.
2. C. diff - CBC Hamilton reports that C. diff, another bacteria that causes diarrhea and in the worst cases inflammation of the colon, was found on smart phones and tablets at St. Joseph's Healthcare. Anne Bialachowski, manager of infection control at St. Joseph's Healthcare in Hamilton says, "Pathogens like C. difficile can even live on a device for days."
3. Fecal matter - Definitely something that comes out of the bathroom, a study performed by Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences found fecal matter on phones where it can survive for days.
4. Flu virus - Not necessarily straight from the bathroom, but it could be, CBC Hamilton also discovered a number of smart phones and tablets that had the flu virus on them.
Why is this so dangerous? Although the London School of Hygiene points out that you can't get sick off of your own fecal matter or E. coli, you can transfer it to others making them sick. Bringing you cell phone into the bathroom exposes it to the flushing spray from the toilet which can reach up to six feet. Also, even if you do wash your hands, wiping your bottom and then handling your phone with that hand before washing will transfer germs to the phone, so you may as well not have washed.
If you can't bring yourself to part with your phone when using the facilities, CBC Hamilton offers a tested solution. Simply wipe your phone with a clean, dry cloth. This will remove any germs or bacteria that may have landed. Smartphones and tablets are wonderful devices and tools; just be smart about how you use them.
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