Smart phone bacteria test: Do you know what’s growing on your phone?

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
Data pix.

With cold and flu season here, do you know that what is on your cell phone could be making you sick? Recent studies found that cell phones can be ten times dirtier than a toilet seat.

Plenty of us are taking our phones to the restroom.

Denver residents admit what 75 percent of Americans admit texting on the toilet.

Some told us, “They all end up in the bathroom at some point. That`s just the way it is.” And “sometimes I put it up on top of the toilet roll holder to keep it away from the toilet.” Another said, “Lord knows what’s on there. I really don`t want to know.”

But what you don’t see on your phone is enough to make you sick. We wanted to see how dirty FOX31 anchors’ and reporters’ cell phones are.

So we teamed up with Aurora based Sharklet Technologies to test our phones for bacteria.

We tested my phone along with the phones belonging to some of my coworkers:
-- Julie Hayden
-- Justin Joseph
-- Hema Mullur
-- Ron Zappolo
-- Libby Weaver
-- Mark Meredith
-- Jon Bowman

The test took less than 24 hours and the petri dishes were covered in bacteria colonies.

See who FOX31 Denver viewers predicted would have the cleanest and dirtiest phones.

Dr. Rhea May, a microbiologist with Sharklet, told us, “Here`s an interesting colony that I don`t really know what that could be.”

She also found staph and yeast, some of which is just normal.

Dr. May showed us the phone that had the most bacteria.

She said, “It looks to me just like this phone is commonly touched, commonly used, potentially by multiple people and is heavily contaminated. Anything that could make you sick? Absolutely.”

Dr. Michelle Barron is the director of infectious diseases at University of Colorado-Denver.

She warns that bacteria can reproduce every 30 minutes, and it can spread from one person to another if you share your phone.

And if you use your phone in the restroom, it can end up with coliform, or fecal matter, on it.

Dr. Barron said, “So you would worry about some kind of food poisoning stomach illness associated with that … nausea vomiting, diarrhea, makes you sick to your stomach.”

Cleaning your phone is complicated.

Experts warn to read the user guide for your specific model. Some cleaning supplies could damage the screen.

That is why Sharklet Technologies has developed a material that prohibits bacteria from growing.

That is something cell phone cases could be made out of as early as next year.

Dr. Shravanthi Reddy is the head of research for Sharklet Technologies. She said, “The pattern is really microscopic. You can’t feel it, or see it, but it`s there. It inhibits bacteria from attaching to the surface without killing the bacteria. We`ve seen about 90 percent reduction in bacteria without using any chemical agents.”

The result of our test found that Libby had the most bacteria on her phone, followed by me, Justin Joseph, Julie Hayden, Hema Mullur, Ron Zappolo, Mark Meredith and Jon Bowman.

Libby said she was not at all surprised, as she has three kids that use her phone. Besides that, hairspray and makeup can harbor bacteria.

Most Read

Top Stories

More Home Page Top Stories