How filthy is your iPhone?

“Biology students from the University of Surrey imprinted their phones onto petri dishes as part of an experiment to examine the bacteria each of us carry around on our smartphone every day,” The Telegraph reports.

“Three days later bacteria had started to grown on the growth medium within the dishes – the majority of which, although it looks disgusting, is relatively harmless,” The Telegraph reports. “One particular strain included traces of staphylococcus aureus, a form of bacteria commonly found in the human nose which can cause a range of infections from minor boils or skin abscesses to blood poisoning.”

It seems that the mobile phone doesn’t just remember telephone numbers, but also harbours a history of our personal and physical contacts such as other people, soil and other matter. It’s unusual, but a very effective way of engaging our students with the often overlooked microbiology of everyday life. — Dr Simon Parks, University of Surrey

See the gruesome photographic evidence here.

MacDailyNews Take: Pass the Clorox wipes, please!

28 Comments

  1. It was known since forever than any keyboard (or phone or whatever people have in their hands) is much dirtier than even your nasties toilet.

    In fact, toilets have biologically predisposed to be cleaner since urine has strong antibacterial properties.

    In countless nations and tribes newborn were bathed in urine as a measure against infant mortality.

        1. You’re terribly misinformed. You might want to start here:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urine#Possible_pathogens_in_urine

          And then for more, here:
          http://jcm.asm.org/content/early/2013/12/19/JCM.02876-13

          I don’t want to post a bunch of links, but if you’re interested in further reading, you might want to Google the reason why women giving lab samples are supposed to part the labia.

          “But toilets are cleaned every day”
          Except when they aren’t.

          1. There is nothing that contradicts to what I have wrote. Obviously, urine is not a penicillin, it is not absolutely immune to every bacteria. Even more so: if you are ill and the illness is kidney/bladder related, even urine can be dangerous.

            However, overall urine is bactericide, there is no doubt about it. Most of bacteria hate salts and other chemicals in the urine.

            1. You’re kind of backpeddling here along with playing loose with the definition of bactericide.

              Look, your statement here is wrong:
              “In fact, toilets have biologically predisposed to be cleaner since urine has strong antibacterial properties. “

              Urine not only is not a “strong antibactericide”, but actually is likely to contain bacteria. Read the articles fully.

              “Even more so: if you are ill and the illness is kidney/bladder related, even urine can be dangerous.”

              That’s only part of it, but listen to what you’re saying. That same logic can be applied to pretty much anything and is meaningless… “blood is totally safe and clean everybody!” (unless of course the blood is from someone who is HIV positive, has Ebola, etc…).

              But it’s not just if the person has a kidney/bladder infection, again, since urine is in fact a rich media for germs, all kinds of nasty pathogens can become present in urine under normal circumstances. Since you didn’t bother to read about urine lab sample procedures, read this:
              http://pennstatehershey.adam.com/content.aspx?productId=117&pid=1&gid=007487

              These procedures are in place because labs have so many problems with urine samples contaminated with various crap (literally) when people aren’t instructed on how to provide a clean sample.

              Ok, here’s something you can try at home! Try peeing in a cup, do this sometime when you haven’t had asparagus or any other food/beverage which may foul the smell of your urine. Leave the cup out for a while. Notice how it didn’t have much of an odor at first, but later becomes fairly nasty? That’s bacteria releasing ammonia from the breakdown of urea.

            2. I am not backpedalling. Toilers are cleaner than your keyboard and smartphones — this was proved by countless researches.

              Urine’s bactericide qualities are also unquestionable (and I have never said that it works against all types of bacteria or it never rots, so there is nothing to back-pedal from.)

            3. “Toilets are cleaner than your keyboard and smartphones”

              Here’s the problem with that statement:
              http://goo.gl/1Xfvf9

              Now, certainly if we’re talking about a toilet that has been thoroughly cleaned, and even one used properly by only a couple of people who flushed thoroughly, etc… etc… etc…. you’re not going to have many pathogens to be found, but again, that’s like saying a sample of urine from someone is sterile… and then neglecting to say, “except for if it’s come from someone who has certain diseases, or wasn’t a clean sample, or isn’t fresh”.

              The practicalities of the situation negate the statement.

              In order to make the statement meaningful in any way, you’d need to apply the same subjective criteria to both the phone and the toilet/urine.

              In other words, it would be as silly as me claiming that iPhones are sterile and then backpedaling by saying… well, they’re sterile if they’re fresh out of the box or have never been expose to any pathogens. It’s pretty meaningless to say that.

              Again, look at your statement that I was objecting to: “In fact, toilets have biologically predisposed to be cleaner since urine has strong antibacterial properties. “

              That implies that peeing on a toilet would improve the bacterial state of the toilet. That’s false. You would not only likely add bacteria (and other pathogens), but increase the growth media of the toilet surface.

            4. @kevicosuave, do not worry about the link.

              Of course, I mean your average cared toiler, not toilers that were not cleaned since forever. The many researches that compare bacteria contamination versus things like keyboards were based also on your average toilet, not on extreme cases.

              The discussion came to a point where I do not see where whatever I was writing really contradicts to what you are writing.

      1. Drinking urine makes no sense since kidneys would have to take even more water from your body to get rid of all the salts have have took back when you drank the urine.

        However, if there is no other way and you in absolute dire thirst, all survival instructions tell that you have to drink urine. If you have no coup or pot then it can be problematic, you would have to take peculiar pose to be able to drink it. If you are not alone, you can drink urine of your fellow, and vise versa, but it will make situation awkward in different way. Though in that state you would not care about such things and would do anything to survive.

  2. Meh. Where do people think this “filth” comes from? Hint: It’s all over and inside of each of us. Humans are full of bacteria and viruses, without which life would not be possible. This obsession with sterile cleanliness is silly, IMO.

    1. Right. In the article, the sentence, “..as part of an experiment to examine the bacteria each of us carry around on our smartphone every day” should have read “on our smartphone AND SKIN every day.”

  3. Here in Australia I wipe my iPhone & silicon cover & iMac about once a week with Eucalyptus Oil. It smells great & kills bacteria.
    For years now, I have been carrying around a tiny bottle of Bosisto’s Eucalyptus Oil when I travel. It comes in handy for making hotel rooms & pillows & carpets etc smell great and kills germs. Not to mention cuts & abrasions disinfectant. (It’s also great for removing gum & sticky label glue better than other solvents)
    Hope this proves useful to others….

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