Are you allergic to your phone? The study suggests they are allergens covered

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A new study suggests that smartphones pose environmental risks such as allergens and should be cleaned regularly. Eldad Carin / Stocksy
  • A new study suggests smartphones harbor allergens like pet hair and fungus.
  • Researchers say people with allergies or asthma should regularly clean their phones to minimize the risk of a severe reaction.
  • Researchers have also noted some effective ways to clean your smartphone.

People touch their smartphones more than 2,600 times a day, according to a 2016 report. And if you’re susceptible to allergies or living with asthma, your smartphone could make you sick.

That’s according to a new study presented this week at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) annual scientific meeting in Louisville, KY.

Using simulated smartphone models, the study showed elevated levels of dog and cat allergens, as well as beta-D glucans (BDG) and endotoxin. BDG is found in the cell walls of fungi and endotoxins are bacterial toxins found in the environment.

“Smartphones showed high and variable levels of BDG and endotoxins, and dog and cat allergens were found on smartphones of pet owners,” Hana Ruran, a high school student from Hopkinton, MA, research intern at Boston Children’s Hospital and lead author of the study, in a press release.

Researchers concluded that people with allergies or asthma should frequently clean their smartphones to reduce the risk of allergies or asthma triggers.

Dr Payel Gupta, a national volunteer medical spokesperson for the American Lung Association, told Healthline that allergens can be found everywhere, including hair, clothing, and shoes, so it makes sense that they also live on our smartphones.

Dog and cat allergens, which are found in pet hair, can also stick to any surface.

“If you touch the phone and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, the allergens can get into the nasal or respiratory tract or the ocular mucosa,” Gupta said.

Additionally, allergens in the eyes or respiratory tract can cause histamine to be released and cause allergic symptoms.

“Our phones accompany us everywhere, we place them on all types of surfaces, [and] they accumulate all kinds of debris, “Dr. William B. Miller, Jr., infectious disease expert, evolutionary biologist and author of” Bioverse: How the Cellular World Contains the Secrets to Life’s Biggest Questions, “told Healthline.

While most allergens cannot be avoided, you can reduce the risk of allergies or asthma triggers by cleaning your smartphone.

To determine the effectiveness of various cleaning agents in reducing BDG and endotoxin, the study used the following chemicals:

  • Electrostatic wipes
  • isopropyl alcohol
  • Clorox does not bleach
  • chlorhexidine
  • cetylpyridinium
  • benzyl benzoate
  • tannic acid wipes

The researchers also designated a control group in which no cleaning solution was used.

According to a press release, researchers found that a combination of chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium was the most effective for reducing allergens in dogs and cats on smartphones.

But chemical compounds like these aren’t necessarily accessible. According to Gupta, simply removing the case from the phone, if you have one, and cleaning it with soap and water could probably do the trick.

“Soap and water would be allergic and would leave no residue that could then cause chemical irritation,” Gupta said.

As for cleaning the phone itself, it’s a good idea to consult the manufacturer’s manual for guidelines. For example, AppleCare recommends removing all cables from your iPhone and turning it off before cleaning it with a “soft, slightly damp, lint-free cloth.”

You should also try to prevent moisture from getting into any openings or crevices.

Products to avoid when cleaning your smartphone

If you have an iPhone, Apple Care does not recommend applying the following cleaning products directly to your device:

  • window cleaner
  • household cleaners
  • compressed air
  • aerosol spray
  • solvents
  • ammonia
  • abrasives
  • detergents containing hydrogen peroxide

There is no exact formula for how often to clean your smartphone, but it might be a good idea to make it a regular habit.

“There is no downside to cleaning a device you use regularly,” Miller said.

“Cleaning your phone to remove some allergens is a drop in the bucket of potential allergic triggers that constantly surround you.”

If you live with allergies or asthma, you may want to clean your smartphone more often, as recommended by the researchers.

According to Gupta, people with seasonal allergies are advised to do more frequent cleaning to reduce the risk of triggers.

“As allergists, we recommend that people with seasonal allergies take off their clothes and shoes outdoors when entering from the outside,” said Gupta. “Allergens can also stick to the hair, so washing it at night before going to bed can help.”

If you are allergic to dust mites, Gupta recommends cleaning the sheets once a week with warm water.

Allergens for pets

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports that 6 out of 10 people are exposed to dog or cat hair.

Gupta recommends keeping pets out of the bedroom if you’re allergic, which can reduce the number of allergens you’re exposed to while sleeping, especially if you keep your smartphone nearby.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommends the following to reduce pet allergens in the home:

  • close the bedroom doors
  • cover the vents with dense material
  • wash and change your pet’s furniture
  • clean toys often

A new study has found that smartphones are a reservoir of common allergens, including pet dander, which can increase the risk of a reaction if you have allergies or asthma.

Cleaning items around the house, especially your smartphone, can help prevent triggers of allergies or asthma, especially if done regularly.

A damp cloth is recommended on many common household cleaning products when cleaning your smartphone. You may try a diluted solution of water and denatured alcohol, but you may want to refer to your phone’s manual for further guidance.


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