More Dangers From Your Mobile Phone

EBN blogger Cagri Tanriover stirred up a hornet's nest with his thorough examination of the dangers of radiation from electronics devices in Electromagnetic Radiation in Our DNA. The debate over cellphones and brain cancer is not likely to go away, nor should it. If it's dangerous, I want to know about it.

On the other hand, when it comes to bacteria and viruses, I think if you go looking for them, you are going to find them. Most recently, enterprising scientists have gone to the gym, to the bottom of handbags, to reusable grocery store bags… and now, it's smartphones' turn.

Smartphones are bad for your health. Literally.

My personal opinion is smartphones put you at risk because people insist on using them while driving. Less dangerous, perhaps, are the microbes related to meningitis, pneumonia, and gonorrhea found on smartphones. Check out this report at MSNBC.

The good news, as always, is that most people have antibodies against these things, and you are unlikely to catch a deadly disease from your smartphone. Unless they are linked to cancer.

Anyway, I'm not going to go into a lengthy debate over the health risk of smartphones. I have a love/hate relationship with these studies that go looking for contamination. I think if you look hard enough, you'll uncover something nasty. (The same is true of anyone running for political office.) Yet, I've read or watched just about every “the dangers of” reports that have been written or broadcast.

The handbag I use is at least five years old. And I still opt for plastic grocery bags that I reuse at least once.

Go figure.

18 comments on “More Dangers From Your Mobile Phone

  1. elctrnx_lyf
    February 28, 2012

    Barbara, I think the dangers of talking while driving is much more than the virus or electromagnetic radiation problems. If everyone know the right way to use these mobiles they are always helpful.

  2. prabhakar_deosthali
    February 28, 2012

    We wash our hands every now and then . We wear washed clothes every day morning. We even wash our shoes occasionally .

    But these things -our handbags, our PC, our laptop , our mobile – do not have the luxury of getting washed in their lifetime.

    Especially so for the elctronic goods – for fear of the electronics getting damaged during the process of cleaning.

    If some dry disinfectant could be used on these devices to make them germs and bacteria free , we all will be saved from the potential infections.


  3. jbond
    February 28, 2012

    I typically wipe down my computer keyboard and my phone weekly just to help keep it clean. I know it might not fully eliminate things, but it helps and it makes me feel better. I agree that driving while using your smartphone is a bigger safety concern over the slim chance of radiation or a virus from your phone.

  4. Eldredge
    February 28, 2012


    Perhaps if we used the gentle cycle??

  5. Anne
    February 28, 2012

    Bacteria exist everywhere but most of them are harmless, they are essential components of the global ecosystem as decomposers.

  6. Adeniji Kayode
    February 28, 2012

    You are right, but sometimes even when you think you are a careful driver, you may not be too careful to catch a virus from your smart phone.

  7. JADEN
    February 28, 2012

    “My personal opinion is smartphones put you at risk because people insist on using them while driving”

    I agree with this your opinion,using cell phone while behind the wheel is the equivalent of driving while intoxicated. Just like putting yourself at risk when drive drunk, you put yourself at risk when using a cell phone and drive.

  8. Barbara Jorgensen
    February 28, 2012

    Phones are definitely taking some heat because of the way people are using them. If a phone causes cancer, then it is definitely the phone's fault. But if I rear-end someone's car becuase I'm reading a text, that's on me. Germs are somewhere in the middle. You can control how clean your phone and phone-storage areas are, but it's impossible not to pass germs on every time you touch the phone. I also pass the phone around if there is a picture on it. And I let my neices and nephews play with it. Ick!

    I'm one of those people in favor of resistence-building. I don't use bacterial hand wash and I try to minimize use of antibiotics. But I see an opportunity here for a phone-sanitizer.

  9. Taimoor Zubar
    February 29, 2012

    but it's impossible not to pass germs on every time you touch the phone.”

    @Barbara: I think the phone manufacturers can also design surfaces that would capture and store minimal bacteria. I'm not sure if they can market this and sell as a USP of the phone.

  10. Taimoor Zubar
    February 29, 2012

    I read an article recently about an experiment on the amount of bacteria that a typical computer keybaoard has. Turns out that the bacteria count exceeds the one found on a typical toilet seat.

  11. Barbara Jorgensen
    February 29, 2012

    Taimoor: I'm envisioning a sanitized, peel-off membrane that you can dispose of at the end of the day. If we can make a water-proof cell phone, we can manage something like that. This would be particulalry good for touch-screens, I would think.

    As to whether it would be worth it to develop, market and manufacture such a thing…I think it would require a health scare the size of SARs, and nobody wants to see that happen again.

  12. Ashu001
    February 29, 2012


    I like how you are thinking.

    Where Can I buy one of these peelable skins???

    But thinking about it a little more,how would you design such a thing?

    do u think it should b biodegradable too? like a Tissue paper?

    Food for thought huh?


  13. bolaji ojo
    February 29, 2012

    Someone once asked a patient what was wrong with him and the man answered “I am dying.” The response to him was a rather rough “aren't we all?” Each time some topic like this comes up I am reminded of the anecdote above. I may come to rue my use of smartphones and computers and whatever one day but you'll have to club me on the head today to take these away!

  14. Anna Young
    February 29, 2012

    Bolaji, It is possible you are being clubbed already and just don't know it — perhaps only a gentle tap at a time, which could result in some major problem down the road. Barbara is right, we should be skeptical of doomsday prophets but we should also pay attention to their warnings when they sound reasonable.

  15. Barbara Jorgensen
    March 1, 2012

    Go for it, Tech4!

  16. Barbara Jorgensen
    March 1, 2012

    Thanks Anna!  I think a common sense approach to anything is ultimately the best one. You can't avoid germs, and a reasonable exposure to common germs build immunity.

  17. Barbara Jorgensen
    March 1, 2012

    Bolaji–didn't you just get over a bad cold? I'd take a closer look at your attachment to your smartphone, if were you…


  18. Taimoor Zubar
    March 4, 2012

    I'm envisioning a sanitized, peel-off membrane that you can dispose of at the end of the day.”

    A disposable membrane doesn't sound too bad. Already people put screen protectors on their screens to protect against scratches. But peeling it off and putting on a new membrane everyday seems like a really tedious task for lazy people like me.

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