Allergens lurk on smartphones, too: Animal allergens, mold markers, and the like build up on screens.

Attention allergic: all kinds of substances that can cause allergic reactions are deposited on the smartphone screen. Scientists have detected cat and dog allergens, as well as markers of mold and bacteria on smartphone screens. This contamination, which is invisible to us, can be enough to trigger an allergy outbreak in sensitive people. His recommendation: clean the screen more often to avoid allergic reactions.

In the case of an allergy, our immune system overreacts to really harmless substances such as pollen, house dust or pet hair. It then reacts to said allergens in a similar way to real dangers, such as pathogens or parasites. Therefore, allergy sufferers have to deal with inflamed mucous membranes, runny nose, watery eyes and itchy skin when they come into contact with allergens. However, it is often difficult to avoid substances that cause allergies. Among other things, they are in the air or on various surfaces such as the sofa or clothes.

So are allergens lurking on the smartphone screen too? To find out, researchers led by Hana Ruran of Boston Children’s Hospital developed special dummy phones that were similar in size and surface area to regular smartphones. After 15 volunteers were in contact with the models for a longer period of time, Ruran and her colleagues examined whether and which allergens could be found on the screens. 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 (BDGs) were found in smartphones. According to Ruran, these are a significant marker for mold fungi. Sugar compounds are found in the cell walls of fungi and are linked to chronic respiratory diseases.

The research team also found increased amounts of cat and dog allergens on pet owners’ cell phones. So the substances that trigger allergic reactions may also “come from a source that most people haven’t considered,” says Ruran’s colleague Peter Thorne. Endotoxins detected in cell phones are also a marker of exposure to Gram-negative bacteria. This confirms that there are loads of bacteria on the screens too.

Frequent cleaning is recommended

Therefore, the researchers recommend that people with allergies or asthma clean their smartphones more frequently to expose themselves to fewer allergens. In the study, a mixture of the cleansing agents chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium worked best against BDG and endotoxin. The combination of benzyl benzoate and tannic acid was particularly effective against cat and dog allergens.

However, none of these chemicals are readily available in the pharmacy, but only from special laboratory suppliers. But even common cleaning methods can help remove at least some of the attached allergens and bacteria from your smartphone. (Annals of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, 2022, doi:10.1016/j.anai.2022.08.565)

Quelle: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

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