Microbiology of public telephones

J Infect. 2006 Aug;53(2):140-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jinf.2005.10.022. Epub 2005 Dec 15.


Objectives: There is an increasing interest in antibacterial products intended for applications, such as in carpets, hand lotions, wallpaper adhesives, gloves and fabrics used in the home and hospital environments. A range of materials impregnated with various types of antimicrobial agents, such as triclosan and silver-zeolite additive is also being evaluated for use in plastics, air filters, toys, tooth-brushes, pagers and telephones. However, there is not enough microbiological data to suggest the need for sterilization of telephones and similar hand-contact objects.

Methods: Bacteriological sampling of 50 public telephones was performed from May to November.

Results: Twelve different types of bacteria were found on the surface of telephones. The level of bacterial contamination for the telephone mouthpiece was increased to its highest point in October from its lowest value in August. It was also found that the microbial contamination of mouthpiece was about twice the contamination of earpiece.

Conclusions: These results showed that public telephones are contaminated with various types of microorganisms and the level of contamination changes significantly with time.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Equipment Contamination*
  • Fomites / microbiology*
  • Hygiene
  • Public Health
  • Seasons
  • Telephone*
  • Turkey