Is your Instagram selfie so awesome that you have to check how many likes it has while you're sitting on the toilet?
We're guessing it just isn't worth it. Using your phone in the bathroom can spread serious illnesses, and the problem is only becoming worse as people use handheld devices more and more, says Canadian germ expert and Huffington Post blogger Jason Tetro.
"Anything that you intend on taking out with you, into the environment, probably shouldn't be accompanying you into the bathroom," he told The Huffington Post Canada.
"That goes for electronic devices, that goes for food, and that also goes for anything that you might be sharing with people."
Tetro, author of "The Germ Code," studied the use of cellphones in bathrooms as far back as 2006, when it wasn't a problem.
Since then, however, mobile devices have taken on increasing importance in people's lives (not to mention more entertaining), and at the same time, they're becoming more contaminated with bacteria, he said.
"You have in the air pathogens such as E. coli, salmonella, C. difficile, norovirus," he said. "These could get deposited onto these devices. That could then lead to either self-infection, or transmission of infection through touching somebody else."
The use of a cellphone without either washing your hands or cleaning off the device with an alcohol wipe could lead to a "cumulative effect of bacteria," Tetro said.
"If you maintain proper and regular hygiene, not only for your hands but your cellphones and your tablets, which are an extension of your hands, you’re going to be safe," he said.
Tetro's warning comes as high levels of pathogens were found on smartphones and tablets during a test at St. Joseph's Healthcare in Hamilton on Monday, CBC News reported.
Infection control manager Anne Bialachowski carried out an ATP test, which measures the amount of organic material on surfaces, such as fecal matter and E. coli.
A score of 30 suggests that a surface is clean, but some devices had readings over 100, and one of them was as high as 400.
Few studies have determined how much handheld devices contribute to the spread of pathogens, but Bialachowski told the network that they have led to increased concerns about contamination at hospitals.
Smartphones, keyboards and tablets are even more contaminated than toilet seats, said a study by U.K. watchdog Which? in 2013.
The company swabbed 90 devices and found "hazardous" levels of bacteria. One iPad in the study had 600 units of Staphylococcus aureus, far more than the 20 units that were found on an office toilet.
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Vending Machine Buttons
Twenty-one percent of vending machine buttons had ATP counts of 300 or higher.
Water Fountain Buttons
Twenty-three percent of water fountain buttons had ATP counts of 300 or higher.
Refrigerator Door Handles
Twenty-six percent of refrigerator door handles had ATP counts of 300 or higher.
Twenty-seven percent of keyboards had APT counts of 300 or higher.
Microwave Door Handles
Forty-eight percent of microwave door handles had APT counts of 300 or higher.
Sink Faucet Handles
Seventy-five percent of sink faucet handles in break rooms had ATP counts of 300 or higher.
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