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Is the surface of your smartphone hosting allergens and asthma triggers?

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Photo: courtneyk/iStockphoto

If you have allergies or asthma, clean your smartphone more often to minimize reaction triggers that may be lurking on the surface, researchers recommend in a recent study.

The researchers developed models that simulated the size and surface of actual phones, then asked 15 people to use electrostatic wipes to clean their model three times a day for a week.

Laboratory testing of the wipes revealed “elevated levels” of β-D glucans, which may cause inflammation and airway irritation, as well as endotoxins. The phones of pet owners also contained cat and dog allergens.

“The study demonstrates exposure to inhalant allergens and molecules that trigger innate immune reactions from a source most people haven’t considered,” said study co-author Peter Thorne, a professor in the University of Iowa Department of Public Health.

Experts from Harvard University offer guidance for cleaning smartphones, laptops and other digital devices:

  • With the device turned off, remove dust and debris with compressed air, a dry lens-cleaning towel or a lint-free cloth.
  • Lightly wipe the surfaces of the device, including the screen, using a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe.
  • Allow the device surfaces to air-dry for a few minutes before turning the device back on.

The study was published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: Global.

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