Students were surprised to learn that their mobile phones were an active breeding surface for germs during the 6th Annual Students’ Health Day at Middlesex University in Dubai, held this week. Dettol’s ‘Mission for Health’ was present at the event to educate students on personal hygiene and how to reduce the spreading of germs by keeping their gadgets hygienically clean. 100 mobile phones were tested using an ATP (adenosine triphosphate) Luminometre, a device that tests surfaces to measure the level of contamination including bacteria. On average the phones tested showed contaminations levels of 390 RLUs (relative light units), above the generally acceptable reading of 100.
ATP luminometres are widely used to provide an indication of the presence of contamination on surfaces. The generally accepted reading for mobile phones is 100RLU. Readings above 200RLU are considered high risk while anything in between is cautionary. In the test conducted with the students, 49% of the phones had readings below 100, while 27% were in the high risk category and 24% were in the cautionary category.
The higher the contamination levels, the greater is the risk of presence of microorganisms such as the influenza virus, salmonella bacteria (typhoid fever and diarrhoea) and adenovirus (common cold, pneumonia, bronchitis). The mobile phone hygiene tests comprised of a before and after phase, where Dettol’s qualified health educators swabbed each of the phones, then wiped their surfaces with Dettol antibacterial wipes, and swabbed once more. The readings in the after phase showed that contamination levels on the mobile phone surfaces significantly reduced once the surfaces had been cleansed.
The findings were an important awareness trigger for the students, with many of them stating that they will pay more attention to their mobile phone hygiene going forward. A 19 years old student, Wissam Al Halabi, said, “I clean my mobile phone every once in a while with a tissue but I was not actually aware of the germs it may contain. Now after getting my mobile phone tested and seeing the result, I am quite surprised and will definitely be more conscientious about cleaning my phone more regularly.”
Studies have shown that mobile phones are one of the most contaminated personal devices of our time. In a study conducted by University of Arizona, results showed that the average mobile phone contains 25,127 germs per square inch, compared to desktops which contained around 20,961 germs per square inch or even toilet seats with 49 germs per square inch.
According to Dr. Muhammad Halwani, a member of the Arab Hygiene Council and an Infection Control Consultant, KSA, “Mobile phones have become essentials in our daily lives and so they are constantly exposed to contamination, especially if they are not kept clean. They can be a serious disease spreading vehicle that transfers contamination from place to place, in addition to cross contaminating food and other consumables. In fact certain bacteria found on mobile phones can even lead to diseases.”
“It is therefore important to educate mobile phone users on the direct correlation between their mobile phone cleanliness and their overall hygiene and wellbeing. As taught by Dettol’s on going Mission for Health campaign, it is as simple as regularly cleaning the gadgets with antibacterial cleansing wipe. Of course, it is also necessary to ensure one’s personal hygiene through regular and thorough hand washing. At the end of the day, we are all equally responsible for creating healthier communities,” added Dr. Halwani.
Carol Rodriguez, a 23 years old student, agrees, “I pay a lot of attention to my mobile cleanliness and I sometimes even wipe it three or four times a day. We constantly touch our mobile phones with our hands and leave it lying around in different places so it can easily breed germs and spread infections. I definitely believe that keeping your mobile clean is important to staying healthy.”
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