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HEALTH: Just how dirty is your cell phone?

Updated: Thursday, July 10 2014, 08:26 PM CDT

Most of us use a cell phone every day. Without ever realizing, it's full of potentially dangerous germs.

We use cell phones for everything from talking to texting to tweeting. But those smartphones aren't just picking up a signal. In many cases, they're picking up germs and bacteria from your surroundings and your hands.

Dr. Tierno says direct contact like kissing and sneezing and indirect contact with objects like cell phones accounts for 80% of infections and research has found some phones are even dirtier than a toilet seat.

Those germs become even more dangerous when those phones are placed up to your face near your eyes, nose and mouth.
So just how bad is it?

GMA investigates asked University of Arizona environmental science researcher Sheri Carlino to find out.

Sheri, "I've actually seen one man spit on his phone and then wipe it with a kleenex."

At popular Gotham West Market in New York City Carlino tested 15 devices, using a tool that instantly measures the amount of organic material on a surface.
"It includes maybe food stuff, skin cells maybe skin flakes, bacteria, mold, fungus, anything like that is going to show up in these numbers.

She says anything under 200 is good news.

Anything over 300 isn't meaning the device is excessively dirty and potentially carrying dangerous bacteria.

So what should you do?

Experts say first off, clean yourphone regularly.

"Wipe the surface of that phone // it will cut down on the number of germs on the device," said Tierno.

They also suggest not allowing other people to touch or use your phone too often.
And  if you really have to, just  keep your distance from the dirt.

Tierno says, "I can hear perfectly well, in fact if probably better."

Germs, giving whole new meaning to a long-distance call.

Check with your manufacturer for specific cleaning instructions
Most of them say don't use harsh chemicals, just wipe the phone periodically with a soft cloth dampened with a little bit of soap and water if necessary.HEALTH: Just how dirty is your cell phone?


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