Phones a breeding ground for microbes: University of Queensland study


pharmacist on the phone, ostensibly to the Pharmacists' Support Service

Think twice before you reach for your mobile phone at lunch, says an expert from the University of Queensland: many phones are a breeding ground for microbes.

UQ’s Dr Alysha Elliott swabbed a variety of workplace surfaces and people’s hands to find some of the least hygienic workplace surfaces, as part of Global Handwashing Day today (15 October).

“Some of the germiest surfaces were a mobile phone screen, a computer keyboard and a kitchen bench, while door handles, desks and chairs were much cleaner,” Elliott says.

Dr Elliott, from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience Centre for Superbug Solutions, took samples from people’s hands both before and after washing, and also from surfaces such as lift buttons, door handles and office kitchen microwaves.

“We found a range of microbes on everyone’s hands and on all surfaces, though some places were surprisingly cleaner than others,” Dr Elliott says.

“Microbes are the oldest life form on earth and they can be found everywhere and on everything we touch.

“We can pick up a range of microbes, such as bacteria, fungi (including yeasts and moulds), during our daily routine.

“The results are a good visual reminder of the need to wash your hands, as cleaning thoroughly with soap and water reduced the number of microbes on all hands we tested.”

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