In 2015, an assistant professor from the Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Department of The University Of Southern California tested the phone screens of employees and the toilet seats of a digital media company to see which was dirtier.
The results were surprisingly disgusting as one would expect. The toilet seat had 3 types of bacteria - P. acnes, Staph, and Strep. The cellphones on the other hand had a staggering 10 to 12 (on average) kinds of bacteria. What’s even more alarming is that there were worse kinds of bacteria on the phone screens such as E. Coli and even E. Faecalis.
How Often Do We Use Our Phones?
Americans touch their phones an average of 46 times a day. And throughout the day, you’re transferring bacteria from everything you touch onto your phone screens. You see, not many people clean their phones. Even if you do, it may not be enough to stop the buildup of some of these microbes which can be hazardous to your health.
But let’s face it, in a technology based society, we can’t help but handle our phones, laptops, screens and monitors. They are essential not only for work but for vital communication and interaction. And this is where antimicrobial glass screen protectors come in.
What Are Antimicrobial Glass Screen Protectors?
Materials used for screen protectors were plastics at first. Then glass became a more popular alternative because of its clarity, scratch resistance, and tactile feel. Since glass screen protectors can be made with layers or laminates, it is possible to treat or coat the material with additives or films that give other beneficial properties to the glass.
Antimicrobial glass screen protectors are a type of screen protector that has antimicrobial properties.Their surfaces have been treated with an agent that kills microorganisms or stops their growth. This makes the screen protector viable against the rapid spread of microbes.
What Are Microbes?
These are what we call microorganisms. They are microscopic organisms that can exist in single-celled form or a colony of cells. They include bacteria and fungi and are found almost everywhere.
Some of them are beneficial like the ones in our gut that help us digest food. Others are used to ferment food, treat water, even produce power. However, some of them are harmful and can make us sick and these are what we try to avoid getting exposed to.
When Were Antimicrobial Glass Screen Protectors Made?
Antimicrobials have been identified as early as 5-6 thousand years B.C. Ancient civilizations have known about the antimicrobial properties of copper and have used it to treat chest wounds and their drinking water. It was so widely used even as a medicine for many ailments before antibiotics were invented in the 1930s.
The practical application of the antimicrobial properties of copper for sanitation of surfaces in the medical, food, and other industries were largely ignored until recently. Although, the technology has been around for some time already with the discovery of other materials with antimicrobial properties such as silver and zinc.
Corning, the world-famous maker of Gorilla Glass, first introduced an EPA-registered antimicrobial glass in January 2014. Commercial and widespread use of antimicrobial glass screen protectors were only launched around 2017. After this, many companies incorporated the glass into their line of screen protectors.
How Do Antimicrobial Glass Screen Protectors Work?
Antimicrobial glass screen protectors use silver ions as the active antimicrobial agent. And although its antimicrobial properties have been known for decades, scientists are only beginning to understand how they prevent the growth and spread of microbes. What we know so far is that they cause:
- Protein damage. Proteins are essential in biological functions. Damaging these components causes these functions, such as energy production, to fail, essentially starving the microbes.
- Cell membrane damage. The cell membrane is the outermost layer of protection of microbes. Silver ions can disrupt this and cause its structural integrity to fail, kinda like bursting the microbes.
- Oxidative damage. Silver can cause an increase in free radicals in cells. Free radicals have reactive oxygen that causes chain reactions that damage internal structures of microbes.
- DNA interference. DNA is the genetic material used for cell replication. Disrupting the DNA of microbes means that it can no longer copy itself.
Silver ions are directly incorporated into the glass itself. Unlike films that are placed on top of glass screen protectors, these ions cannot be scratched off. They have been proven to kill 99.99% of common bacteria in about 2 hours. What’s more, they do this 24/7 for the lifetime of the product.
Is It Worth Buying An Antimicrobial Glass Screen Protector
After reading all the information here, it all boils down to one question. Should I buy an antimicrobial glass screen protector? We’ll lay down both the pros and cons here and you can decide for yourself if it is worth buying.
Protection against microbes
Bottomline is, you’re looking for protection against these unseen enemies. The antimicrobial coating on these screen protectors prevent the growth and spread of bacteria and fungi. You’ll feel a little less paranoid and a little more confident that the screen you’re touching is safer than before.
Less need to disinfect
We’re banking on the fact that having a screen protector that’s properly treated means you won’t have to be as paranoid as you were before. You should still employ a regular cleaning regimen to maintain cleanliness, however, the frequency won’t be too high. Plus, you don’t need to rub so hard to cause any hand fatigue or use disinfectants that can harm your screen.
Keeping Healthy and Clean
Letting your screen fester up with dirt and grim will cause it to discolor impeding your view. We don’t want that when we’re binge watching online. Keeping everything clean also takes out any unwanted smells.
Contribute To Our Global Problems
If not disposed of properly, these screen protectors may emit active ingredients into the environment, causing health hazards in future. Now, this is something that goes beyond many global campaigns. So look for products that are sustainable and have designs that have the planet in mind.
There’s a clause in many antimicrobial screen protectors that states they may or may not kill viruses. These may merit further studies and are not yet definitive.
What Should I Look For In Antimicrobial Glass Screen Protectors
There are a couple of things you need to remember when you’re deciding to get an antimicrobial glass screen protector.
- First and foremost, they have to be tough. How tough? Think 9H hardness. After all, they’re designed to protect your screens from scratches and impacts.
- They also have to be thin enough to keep your screen’s responsiveness and touch sensitivity. About 0.33mm is the sweet spot for glass screen protector thickness.
- Check if they fit your phone exactly and provide the largest coverage of your phone’s screen.
- Try to do some research as to what antimicrobial agent the manufacturer used in their product and make sure it’s EPA certified.
- And let’s not forget that oleophobic coating for a clearer looking screen. We don’t want those ugly smudges all over that beautiful screen.
This year, we were reminded invisible dangers are lurking around us all the time. We have to be vigilant in protecting our health. But sometimes, putting an emphasis on sanitation may not be enough as some microbes still stick to our devices even after a good rub down. Plus, strong disinfectants can damage your device. Installing an antimicrobial glass screen protector may just be the best way to protect yourself and your device in this new normal.