Mobile phones 'harbour more bacteria than toilet handle'
Study shows raised levels of harmful germs in seven out of 30 handsets
Published 28/07/2010 | 05:00
Mobile phones can harbour 18 times more living bacteria than a flush handle on a men's toilet, according to research for consumer group Which?
A hygiene expert who swabbed and analysed 30 handsets for the study found seven had warning or high levels of environmental bacteria.
One harboured levels of bacteria, including faecal coliforms, high enough to give its user a serious stomach upset.
Which? said the findings suggest millions of UK mobiles would exceed the recommended acceptable levels of bacteria.
While not immediately harmful, elevated levels indicate poor hygiene and can act as a breeding ground for more serious bacteria.
Hygiene expert Jim Francis told Which?: "The levels of potentially harmful bacteria on one mobile were off the scale. That phone needs sterilising."
The tests showed how easily bacteria could linger on the surface of a phone, which could be passed on to other people if they held the handset to look at photos or other applications.
Which? advises that phones can be cleaned with an alcohol wipe.
The Which? study backs up other research carried out by them in relation to contamination from bacteria.
The results of the 2007 study carried out in Britain also found that there were more germs on mobiles than the average door handle, keyboard or bottom of a shoe, or even a toilet seat.
The study found that without cleaning and disinfecting your mobile phone and keyboard on a regular basis, more bacteria could spread.
The research confirmed the presence of skin bacteria including staphylococcus aureus on the phone, keyboard, toilet seat and door handle. The shoe, in contrast, carried bacteria from the soil and air.
Commenting on the research at the time, Joanne Verran, professor of microbiology at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: "Mobile phones, like many everyday objects such as telephones and computer keyboards, harbour bacteria.
"However, being 'mobile', they are stored in bags or pockets, are handled frequently and held close to the face," Prof Verran said.
"In other words, they come into contact with more parts of our body and a wider range of bacteria than toilet seats!"
"The phones contained more skin bacteria than any other object; this could be due to the fact that this type of bacteria increases in high temperatures and our phones are perfect for breeding these germs as they're kept warm and cozy in our pockets, handbags and briefcases.
"These bacteria are toxic to humans, and can cause infections if they have the opportunity to enter the body," she added.