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Your Smartphone Is Basically a Poopstick

Illustration for article titled Your Smartphone Is Basically a Poopstick

Some unfortunate news for people who don't like rubbing feces on their face: your smartphone is probably covered in it.

In a recent study conducted for the Wall Street Journal, HML Labs randomly selected smartphones in a Chicago office and tested them for various bacteria to troubling results. While the phones showed no sign of E. coli or staphylococci bacteria, the researchers did discover that every single one of the smartphones examined "showed abnormally high numbers of coliforms, a bacteria indicating fecal contamination." To put "abnormally high" into perspective, the limit of coliform in drinking water is one unit of bacteria per 100 ml of water. One of the smartphones tested held counts somewhere between 2,700 and 4,200 units.

Now, while Dr. Donald Hendrickson, the president of HML Labs and professor emeritus of medical microbiology at Ball State University, referred to the results as "pretty bad," the study's sample makes it statistically impossible to draw an accurate conclusion. Only eight phones were tested, and they all came from the same Chicago office building.


The sample size alone would make the results questionable, but any number of potential factors might contribute to this one office's profusion of fecal phones. Maybe office culture looks down on hand washing. Maybe they've been making their own, ineffective soap. Maybe during lunchbreaks they play "Who Can Rub Their Phone On The Most Bathroom Surfaces." We can't know. That's the point. So until a study tests the smartphones of a larger, more diverse sample, there's no need to cower from your phone in fear. But until then, Chicago, please, wash your hands. [Readwrite Mobile via The Wall Street Journal]

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That's because many people STILL do not wash their hands thoroughly after using the bathroom.