Mobile devices are common companions of university dwellers in the modern age. The goal of this study was to investigate the risk mobile phones may contribute to public health. What contributes to this risk? Are certain populations more at risk? What reduces this risk? To examine relationships between personal behaviors influencing bacterial densities on mobile devices, participants (N = 58) completed questionnaires ascertaining basic demographic and hygienic practice information. Saline swabs were used to collect large area samples from 39 individual phones, and 19 phones for small area sampling. Samples were inoculated onto various microbial plates. For the 39 large area swabs, 27 (69%) of plates were positive for Staphylococcus aureus and 4 (10%) for antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Statistical analysis was used to determine correlation between parameters. Research of the 39 phone cultures in a university setting indicates there may be a correlation between hygienic practices and S. aureus and general bacterial counts on mobile devices. However, more research is needed to prove the significance of these relationships. Nonetheless, phones are adequate fomites and have the potential to pose a public health risk without proper sanitation methods.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 2015


Jason W. Marion

Department/Professional Affiliation

Environmental Health Science

Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars


Environmental Health Science

IRB Approval Number (if applicable)