Attention allergy sufferers: All kinds of substances are deposited on the smartphone screen that can trigger allergic reactions. Scientists have detected cat and dog allergens as well as signs of mold and bacteria on smartphone screens. This pollution that is invisible to us can be enough to trigger an allergy attack in sensitive people. Her recommendation: Clean the screen frequently to prevent allergic reactions.
in sensitive Our immune system overreacts to harmless substances such as vaccinehouse dust, or animal hair. Then it reacts to these allergens in a similar way to real dangers such as pathogens or parasites. So allergy sufferers have to deal with swollen mucous membranes, runny nose, watery eyes, and itchy skin when they come into contact with an allergen. However, allergens are often difficult to avoid. Among other things, they are in the air or on various surfaces such as the sofa or clothes.
So do allergens also lurk on the smartphone screen? To find out, researchers led by Hannah Roran of Boston Children’s Hospital developed special dummy phones that were similar in size and surface to regular smartphones. After 15 volunteers had been in contact with the models for a longer period of time, Rouran and her colleagues examined whether and which allergens could be found on the displays. They also tested which cleaning agents were most effective at removing residue.
Animal allergens, mold and bacteria
The result: increased concentrations of various allergens, endotoxins, and so-called beta-d-glucans (BDG) were found on smartphones. According to Rouran, this is a meaningful sign of mold fungi. Sugar compounds are found in the cell walls of fungi and are associated with chronic respiratory diseases.
The research team also found an increasing number of cat and dog allergens on the cell phones of pet owners. So substances that trigger allergic reactions could “come from a source that most people haven’t considered,” says Roran colleague Peter Thorne. Endotoxins detected in cell phones are also a sign of exposure to Gram-negative bacteria. This confirms the presence of piles of bacteria on the displays.
Frequent cleaning is recommended
Therefore, researchers recommend that people with allergies or asthma clean their smartphones more frequently in order to expose themselves to fewer allergens. In the study, a mixture of the cleaning agents chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium worked best against BDG and endotoxins. The combination of benzyl benzoate and tannic acid was particularly effective against allergens in cats and dogs.
However, none of these chemicals are readily available at the pharmacy, but only from private laboratory suppliers. But even common cleaning methods can help rid your smartphone of at least some allergens and sticky bacteria. (Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, 2022, doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2022.08.565)
Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
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