Should you really stop using your phone in the bathroom?

It’s no secret I take my computer to the bathroom. Esteemed International Association of Food Protection president Don Schaffner noted as much at last year’s meeting, telling attendees far more than they wanted to know when he said he got a great food safety risk communication distillation from me – while I was on the toilet.

toilet.tweetingWhen Chapman first got a blackberry over 10 years ago, he e-mailed me and proudly proclaimed, “I’m in the bathroom” (but not exactly like that).

Today’s hipsters call it toilet tweeting.

So when a story from Canada’s version of state-sponsored jazz (CBC) proclaims you should probably stop bringing your phone into the bathroom with you, I have some questions.

The story quotes Anne Bialachowski, manager of infection control at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton, Ontario, was testing smartphones and tablets at St. Joseph’s on Monday as part of World Hand Hygiene Day, and found that some devices were more than just grimy.

Using an ATP test, which measures organic material that gets left behind on surfaces, Bialachowski found some phones and tablets had scads of things living on them — that organic material could be anything from fecal matter and E. coli, to the virus that causes the flu.

Until the results are published in something resembling a peer-reviewed journal, they’re not much.

Would you prefer a cell phone or clean water?

The United Nations says six billion of the world’s seven billion people have mobile phones but only 4.5 billion have access to toilets or latrines.

So the UN is launching a global campaign to improve sanitation for the 2.5 billion people who don’t have it.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson called their plight “a silent disaster” that reflects the extreme poverty and huge inequalities in the world toilet-tmtoday.

Eliasson told a press conference Thursday that the issue must be addressed immediately for the world to meet the UN goal of halving the proportion of people without access to sanitation by the end of 2015. World leaders set a series of Millennium Development Goals to combat poverty at a summit in 2000, and Eliasson said the sanitation goal lags farthest behind.

While most people don’t want to talk about the problem, Eliasson said, “it goes to the heart of ensuring good health, a clean environment and fundamental dignity for billions of people.”

The UN said action must include eliminating by 2025 the practice of open defecation, which perpetuates disease.