Arguably nothing epitomizes the cell phone addiction of modern society more than seeing men lined up at the urinal stalls, phones in hand.
But doctors warn the habit is more than just a reminder of how attached men are to their devices — it carries health risks.
Dr. Helen Bernie, a urologist from Indiana University Health, said bacteria-ridden urine splashes stay in toilets and public restrooms for days.
Studies have shown that urine droplets can bounce off the back of a pan or urinal, reaching distances of up to a meter. Flusing can send launch urine up to six meters away.
Splashing water from urinating can reach up to a meter – almost a meter, while flushing a toilet or urinal can spread pathogenic germs up to six feet
Phones can easily become contaminated by splashing back and then traveling through the fecal-oral route — where bacteria from stool enters your mouth after contaminated surfaces, such as a phone, touch your face
Dr. Helen Bernie, an Indiana University Health urologist, told DailyMail.com, “Backsplash travels up the penis and then you could even pass that on to a partner”
A 2021 NordVPN survey found that 65 percent of 9,800 adults use their phone on the toilet.
There is a common misconception that using one hand to pee and the other hand to hold your phone minimizes the spread of germs and keeps them off your device.
Dr. Bernie told DailyMail.com, “Even when you think you’re clean and you’re only touching yourself, or you don’t even flush a urinal, a lot of backsplash happens.
“These public restrooms are often absolutely filthy germ hot spots with germs and bacteria on everything you touch, from the door to walk into the bathroom, the floor, that closet door, the wall you lean against or near, the faucets to toilet.
‘Everything is sprayed into the air with the perfect breeding ground for bacteria such as E. coli, streptococci, hepatitis A and E, which can lead to major gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhoea, fever, shigella. These are all there.’
Feces and urine can contain a large number of bacteria and viruses. When you flush a urinal or toilet, the bacteria is spread in an atomized plume.
A study inside Physics of Fluids found that 57 percent of splash particles from flushing a urinal can travel to the person in 5.5 seconds.
Dr. Bernie added: ‘Studies have shown that there are significant water or urine droplets in the backsplash from when people urinate and urinate and they stay there for days in restrooms and public restrooms.
“So on top of that, you hold your phone, which can get a backsplash like that, or your body, and then you walk out with it. It’s really disgusting.’
Bathroom supplier QS Supplies carried out a splash study in which urination was simulated. The farthest distance a droplet flew was three feet – almost a meter.
Phones can easily become contaminated this way and then travel through the fecal-oral route — where bacteria from feces enter your mouth after contaminated surfaces, such as a phone, touch your face.
a 2020 study in Iran sampled 1,062 toilets and collected samples of toilet door handles, toilets, flush knobs, soap and hand dryers. Researchers found that 89 percent of the samples were contaminated, mostly with E. coli, which accounted for 29 percent of the samples.
Backsplash can also harm others than the direct recipient.
Dr. Bernie said, ‘Backsplash goes up the penis and then you could even pass that on to a partner. Bacterial vaginosis is associated with an increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and that men can pass it from their penis to the vaginal wall for female partners.”
Hand dryers have also been found to put bacteria back on your hands.
Dallin Lewis, 33, held petri dishes under the machines for several seconds at a public restroom, gas station, movie theater and convenience store in Provo, Utah.
After being incubated for three days, the dishes were found to be teeming with bacteria and mold – which appeared in white, yellow and black spots. The dryer in the public toilets turned out to be the most polluted.
But a separate Petri dish swung through the air in the bathroom before being incubated to mimic when someone shakes their hands after washing to get the water off remained perfectly clear.
It takes the average man 21 seconds to urinate, but that’s still plenty of time for millions of bacteria to enter our system.