Bacteria living on your cell phone can cause flu, pinkeye or diarrhea. In the October 23rd edition of the Wall Street Journal, Caroline Porter writes: "When you combine a cell phone’s proximity to your ears, nose and mouth with its bacteria-loving warmth, the result can be harmful to your health." While items like keys and computers harbor plenty of germs as well, they aren’t used close to these vulnerable parts of the body.
She quotes microbiologist Michael Schmidt as saying, "We’re feeding the little creatures.We’ve all seen that greasy smear [on the touch screen]. Where there is grease, there are bugs."
When a lab tested 8 randomly selected phones from a Chicago office, there were between 2,700 and 4,200 units of coliform bacteria on them, indicating fecal contamination. In drinking water, the limit is less than 1 unit per 100 ml of water.
Porter quotes Donald Hendrickson, the head of the testing lab, as saying, "The results are pretty bad," suggesting a lack of hand washing and proper hygiene. The lab also tested four different cleaning methods, including water, alcohol, glass cleaner and wipes. Alcohol did the best job, cleaning away nearly 100% of the bacteria. Plain water was the least effective.
Your next cell phone may be textured: Sharklet Technologies is using microscopic patterns that mimic shark skin, which has a unique pattern that is resistant to bacteria. They also want to use this for medical devices, furniture and countertops. The shark-skinned cell phones will be available late next year.