You may want to peel your mobile phone away from your face, considering it may be dirtier than a toilet handle, the Daily Mail reported.
A U.K. study tested 30 mobile phones for levels of potentially harmful bacteria, or the total viable bacterial count (TVC).
High TVC levels don’t pose any immediate harm, but usually indicate poor hygiene.
The results revealed that 25 percent exceeded the acceptable TVC by 10 times and have 18 times the TVC as a handle on a public restroom toilet. The Which? magazine study suggests that 14.7 million of the 63 million phones being used in the U.K. could pose a health risk, the report said.
“Most phones didn’t have any immediate harmful bacteria that would make you sick straight away, but they were grubbier than they could be,” said Ceri Stanaway, a researcher with Which? magazine.
One phone’s TVC level was so high it put its owner at risk of a serious stomach ache, the report said.
“The levels of potentially harmful bacteria on one mobile were off the scale. That phone needs sterilizing,” Jim Francis, a hygiene expert, said.
The phone with the most bacteria had more than ten times the acceptable level, as well as 39 times the safe level of enterobacteria, which includes Salmonella.
“What this shows is how easy it is to come into contact with bacteria,” Stanaway said. “People see toilet flushes as being something dirty to touch, but they have less bacteria than phones.”
The tests also found E. coli and staphylococcus aureus, among other food poisoning bugs, but at safe levels. There was also 170 times the acceptable level of the bacteria associated with human waste, fecal coliforms.
“People need to be mindful of that by observing good hygiene themselves and among others who they pass the phone to when looking at photos, for example,” Stanaway said.