Smartphones have become such an ubiquitous part of human life that they’re rarely seen out of their owners’ hands – even while sitting on the toilet.
For many people, taking their phone into the bathroom is normal. There doesn’t seem to be any harm in scrolling through Instagram or reading up on news while nature calls. But the practice could be seriously affecting one’s overall health, experts say.
Dr. Paul Matewele, a microbiologist at London Metropolitan University, said,
Touching your phone between using the toilet and washing your hands is a very bad idea.
The toilet bowl is notoriously one of the dirtiest places inside a house, but that’s not the main reason taking a gadget within its vicinity is not recommended, Yahoo News reports.
Matewele points out that people carry their phones with them everywhere, making them even more dangerous. Using them constantly means the phones are exposed to a wide range of pathogens, including high-risk areas like the bathroom and the dining table.
“Toilet seats, handles, sinks and taps are covered in germs such as E. coli, which can cause urinary tract infections and intestinal illness, C. diff which can result in diarrhoea, and acinetobacter which can cause a contagious respiratory infection,” Matewele said.
To prevent contamination and stem the spread of bacteria, mobile phones should be left in bags or pockets, where they can do no harm. But for those who simply can’t make do without their phones in the bathroom, Matewele advises thorough washing of hands before and after visiting the toilet.
Sally Bloomfield of the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene, said, “The main thing is to practice regular handwashing and to keep critical surfaces, such as door handles and mobile phones, as clean as possible.”
She added that while some viruses, like the flu, die off within minutes outside the human body, there are other more resilient ones that can survive for several weeks on dry surfaces – such as mobile phones.