That smartphone in your hand could be triggering your allergies, a new study by an 18-year-old high school student suggests.
A science fair project by Hana Ruran, of Hopkinton, Mass., found that cell phones are often loaded with cat and dog allergens, bacteria and fungi.
“I have my phone always with me. It’s always in my hand. I never put it down for anything,” says study author Hana Ruran, a senior at Hopkinton High School. “And I have a lot of allergies. I just got interested in doing something that affects me.”
The bottom line: It’s a good idea to wipe down the surface of your phone, especially if you have allergies.
The research is being presented Thursday at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) annual meeting in Louisville, Ky.
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What the study shows
“The study demonstrates exposure to inhalant allergens and molecules that trigger innate immune reactions from a source most people haven’t considered,” study co-author Peter Thorne, Ruran’s mentor, said in an ACAAI news release.
“If you have allergies or asthma, you may want to think about cleaning your smartphone more often to minimize exposure to these allergens and asthma triggers,” says Thorne, a professor in the University of Iowa College of Public Health, in Iowa City.
For the study, the researchers created phone models that simulated the size and surface of a real phone and worked with 15 volunteers. Each participant used electrostatic wipes, running them across the models. The volunteers repeated this several times a day for a week.
Thorne’s lab tested the wipes to see what was captured.
The investigators found elevated and variable levels of what are called β-D glucans (BDG). These are a marker for