Allergens also lurk on smartphones – animal allergens, mold markers and the like accumulate on the displays.

Attention allergy sufferers: Various substances are stored on the smartphone screen that can lead to allergic reactions. Researchers have discovered cat and dog allergens as well as mold and bacteria markers on smartphone displays. This contamination, invisible to us, can be enough to trigger an allergy flare-up in sensitive people. Her recommendation: Clean the screen more often to avoid allergic reactions.

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

Are allergens also lurking on the smartphone screen? To find out, researchers led by Hana Ruran of Boston Children’s Hospital developed special phone dummies that were similar in size and surface to regular smartphones. After 15 volunteers were in contact with the models for an extended period of time, Ruran and her colleagues investigated whether and which allergens could be found on the screens. They also tested which cleaning products were most effective at removing residue.

Animal allergens, molds and bacteria

Result: Increased concentrations of various allergens, endotoxins and so-called beta-D-glucans (BDG) were detected on smartphones. According to Ruran, these are a meaningful marker of fungi. Sugar compounds are found in the cell walls of fungi and are associated with chronic respiratory diseases.

The research team also found an increased number of cat and dog allergens on pet owners’ mobile 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 on cell phones are also a marker of exposure to gram-negative bacteria. This confirms that there are also heaps of bacteria on the displays.

Frequent cleaning is recommended

Scientists therefore recommend that people with allergies or asthma clean their smartphones more often to expose themselves to fewer allergens. In the study, a mixture of cleaning 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 commonly available at the drugstore, but only from specialty laboratory suppliers. But even common cleaning methods can help rid the smartphone of at least part of the clinging allergens and bacteria. (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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