The smartphone? It is covered with allergens, fungi and bacteria that can irritate the airways, increase inflammation and worsen allergies and asthma. This emerges from a very recent study published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology by an American team and presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (Ruran et al, Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol, 2022).
The smartphone is always with us
In the world, 84% of people own a smartphone and if you are reading this article, in all likelihood you too belong to this huge group. The point is that the smartphone has improved our lives in many ways, it allows us to be reachable, to ask for help at any time, it informs us, it helps us in many everyday situations from a simple reservation to ordering a dinner and it is also a pleasant hobby. But precisely for this reason the smartphone is always with us, resting on every more or less clean surface and we too pick it up and touch it, often with dirty hands, even more than 2600 times a day. Here is that the smartphone can really become a problem for the health of the airways since it becomes a receptacle for allergens and bacteria that are deposited on this device. In the following we will deepen this aspect and will see how to solve this problem.
The smartphone is covered with bacteria, allergens and molds, the study
The research we are talking about today analyzed the smartphones of 15 volunteers. The scientists cleaned the mobile devices with a special wipe and what emerged was that the smartphones had high allergen values, mainly from dogs and cats, but also beta D glucans and endotoxins. Beta D glucans are substances found in fungal cell walls, thus indicating the proliferation of molds and yeasts, and are associated with chronic disorders and irritation affecting the respiratory tract. Endotoxins are potent pro-inflammatory agents and indicate the presence of bacteria. Hence, the study highlights that even though the sample analyzed was small, our smartphones are full of bacteria, fungi, molds and dog and cat allergens.
Conclusions and tips for cleaning the smartphone
The result of this study is that the smartphone needs to be cleaned, just as we clean our hair, skin, clothes and the house. In fact, the smartphone is not protected from the contamination of molds, bacteria and allergens that can increase inflammation, irritate the airways and worsen allergies and asthma. But how to clean your smartphone effectively and safely? The study indicates some substances that have been shown to be particularly effective at removing allergens and toxins, such as the combination cetylpyridinium and chlorhexidine or that given by benzyl benzoate and tannic acid. However, these are substances that are hardly commonly found on the market at the concentrations proposed in the study. On the other hand, it is much more feasible to take care of the hygiene of your smartphone in the following way. It is important to remove the cover, if present, clean it with soap and water and then dry it well. Instead, as regards the phone, it must be turned off and the cables and headphones must be disconnected.
Then you can proceed with the cleaning which must be very delicate. You can use a lint-free cloth, such as those in microfiber dedicated to cleaning glasses. The cloth should be slightly damp and then used to clean the smartphone. The important thing is to avoid detergents, soap, products containing alcohol and vinegar.