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Cellphones Are Great for Sharing Photos – and Bacteria

| Technology | October 30, 2012

We love our smart phones and tablets – a lot. But the next time you take your phone to lunch, hand it to a coworker to share photos, or bring it to the gym, consider this: Bacteria from a phone can cause flu, pinkeye or diarrhea. Yuck. And people are just as likely to get sick from their phones as from handles of the bathroom. That’s according to a physician interviewed by the Wall Street Journal about the hazards of taking your cell phone everywhere – and then passing it to friends to share an image or message. You don’t have to be a germophobe to dread that bit of news. A lab tested eight randomly selected phones from a Chicago office and all phones showed abnormally high numbers of coliforms, a bacteria that indicates fecal contamination. Of the eight phones tested, there were between about 2,700 and 4,200 units of coliform bacteria. In drinking water, the limit is less than 1 unit per 100 ml of water. The tricky part?

Most household cleaners and disinfectants can harm your phone’s screen or case. The WSJ has the full report and some suggestions for avoiding the worst of it. Worth a read as we enter the flu season.

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