Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


FAU study: Clean your wristbands, they may contain E. coli

A recent FAU study says that wristbands can be a carrier of harmful bacteria such as E.coli and Staphylococcus.
Courtesy of Jacob Fogal

In daily fashion, wristbands or wrist accessories could be a carrier of harmful bacteria.

Researchers from the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science conducted a study to see if wristbands or wrist accessories could house harmful bacteria.

During the experiment, researchers found that 95% of all wristbands face contamination with bacteria from subjects at the time of sample collection. Some wristband materials were more contaminated than others.

The most common wristbands in the study were rubber and plastic. Both materials are attached to smart devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers. Despite being the most common rubber and plastic wristbands contained the most traces of bacteria while gold/ silver wristbands had  the least. 

The experiment revealed that bacteria like Staphylococcus spp also known as Staph found in 80% of the wristband samples. Staph bacteria are the most likely cause of skin infections  E.coli bacteria was found in 60% of wristbands tested. E.coli is primarily contracted by coming into contact with animal feces. According to the CDC, the biggest preventative measure for E coli is to sanitize after coming in contact with animals, primarily after coming in contact with pet stool. 

“The quantity and taxonomy of bacteria we found on the wristbands show that there is a need for regular sanitation of these surfaces,” said Nwadiuto Esiobu, FAU Professor of biological sciences in the Charles E. Schmidt College of science. 

The need for sanitizing wristbands is increasing as more and more FAU students either buy new wristbands or wear their wristbands on the busy breezeway.

Anthony Arnone, the owner of Ruby’s Healing Crystals, frequently sets up a stand to sell gemstone jewelry to students on the breezeway. Part of his hot sellers are gemstone wristbands held by rubber elastic bands.

“On an average day at FAU, I would probably sell between 5 and 10 bracelets,” said Arnone. “I would say my main customer base are women, but not by much. The men who do come to the table are more inclined to buy a bracelet than some of the other items.”

For gemstone wristband maintenance, Arnone recommends not to wear them while swimming or showering and be careful while washing them. 

FAU Charles E. Schmidt published the study proposing that for effective cleaning and disinfecting, use Lysol disinfectant spray or 70% ethanol. The data has shown these to be >99.99% effective in killing harmful bacteria among all wristbands. 

Students, however, aren’t disinfecting their wristbands as often as they should. The FAU study mentions that more active individuals like gym goers have more staph bacteria counts than others. 

Active people don’t just include those who go to the gym often but also involve athletes involved in sports as well. 

Dariel Osendi, a senior history major specializing in anthropology, is interested in watch culture and leads an active lifestyle.

“I do wear my watches and bracelets everyday. Sometimes I’ll take off my ring and watch, but my bracelet never comes off or anything. I play soccer every day and my bracelet stays on,” said Osendi. “I haven’t disinfected my jewelry, but I do polish my watch once a year.” 

Other students have taken steps to disinfect when they can but realize there is a lot more to consider than just sanitizing your wristbands.

Nick Johnson, a sophomore film major, takes pride in his outfits and routinely disinfects his gold wristband. However, he leaves other areas ignored.

 “I clean my gold wristband often with the polisher and disinfectant [the jeweler] gave me. I don’t wear my wristbands often, so I’ll say like two times a week I clean them. I’m not gonna lie, I don’t ever do anything with these,” said Johnson, referring to his diamond earrings.

Health science major Ashley Ervil got her Apple Watch in 2022 and is quite fond of it, along with her silver bracelets.

“I do like to scroll through my messages on my Apple Watch. It’s convenient, but I don’t disinfect my watch,” said Ervil. “For my silver bracelets, whenever I go to the mall, I stop by Pandora to get them cleaned.”

The study has only breached the surface on common everyday items containing bacteria and pathogens. Researchers strongly advocate for people to not just routinely disinfect their wristbands, but other accessories most wouldn’t think to disinfect as they could be carriers of bacteria.  

“Other potential forms of bacterial transmission and facilitation of infection, such as earbuds or cell phones, should be similarly studied,” said Esiobu.

Christopher Vargas is a staff writer for the University Press. For more information on this story or others, contact him at [email protected] 


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  • M

    Mins ruleOct 4, 2023 at 9:29 am


    Poorly educated children don’t wash their hands. Demand reparations and more free years to study how everybody sucks except their friends du jour.

    Pinkeye epidemic for lack of toilet paper soon to follow.