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Dirty Texting: One Sixth of Mobile Phones Are Contaminated with Faecal-derived E.coli

Posted on the 14 October 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Dirty texting: One sixth of mobile phones are contaminated with faecal-derived E.coli

Covered in poo? Photo credit: JonJon2k8

One in six mobile phones is contaminated with faecal matter, according to a new study from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London. The Press Association reported that the research, based on 400 samples from across the UK, revealed that our hands and mobile phones are swarming with potentially harmful bacteria.

92 percent of phones and 82 percent of hands had bacteria on them, while 16 percent of both hands and phones had faecal-derived E.coli, said the study.

Now wash your hands. The results, released ahead of the 15th October Global Handwashing Day, indicate that people don’t wash their hands thoroughly enough after trips to toilet, and Dr Val Curtis from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine hopes the study might encourage people to change their ways: “I hope the thought of having E.coli on their hands and phones encourages them to take more care in the bathroom — washing your hands with soap is such a simple thing to do but there is no doubt it saves lives.” Fergus Walsh from the BBC proposed that, while our handwashing intentions might be noble, we may be being held back by poor technique: “Why do so many people clearly not wash their hands with soap after a visit to the toilet? Perhaps they do, but are simply doing it wrong.”

The dirty North. The study revealed a North / South divide. Dr Curtis said, “We found the further north we went the more hands and phones were likely to be contaminated. It could be the bugs survive better in colder and wetter conditions or it might be that people wash their hands less.” Birmingham housed the foulest phones, although Londoners had the dirtiest hands.

Rise of the machines. Nick Collins, writing for The Daily Telegraph, said that mobile phones are the perfect refuge for bacteria, as they are “hard to clean, are frequently warmed up when the device is used, and are occasionally sprayed with proteins when we speak into the receiver.” After the alarming emergence of “text-neck”, this is just the latest case of technology attacking our fragile health, and The Daily Mail reminded us of a similar 2008 survey, which revealed that computer keyboards contain “up to five times more germs than a toilet seat.” Is nowhere safe?

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