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According to a new study from the University of London’s School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary (yes), one in six mobile phones in a study spanning 400 phones and hands and 12 British cities had fecal matter on it. Possibly worse, one in six hands also had fecal matter on them — specifically, E. coli, which, in the case of this study, was used as a marker for the presence of fecal matter.
For whatever reason, the further north the researchers explored, the more contaminated were the phones and hands. Said one, “It could be the bugs survive better in colder and wetter conditions or it might be that people wash their hands less.”
The good news is, the E. coli strains found were not likely to cause major health problems, though they will make you think twice about sharing lunch with that coworker with the fabulous accent who’s always on his cell phone and who regularly emerges from the bathroom with extremely dry hands. (Also: Avoid shopping carts at all costs!)
The survey from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is timed to publicise Global Handwashing Day on 15 October.
Which is…tomorrow. So, take this study with a grain of salt. But wash your hands afterward, O.K.?