In case BlackBerry users needed another reason to upgrade to a newer smart phone, research released today suggests there could be a health benefit to doing so, at least for people with skin allergies.
In a small study presented at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, researchers measured the levels of cobalt and nickel—two metals that can cause itchy allergic reactions in susceptible people—in 72 cell phones, including 25 iPhones, 17 Motorola Droids, 9 BlackBerries, and 21 older-style flip phones. None of the iPhones or Droids tested positive for either cobalt or nickel, compared with 29 percent of BlackBerries that tested positive for nickel (none of them had detectable levels of cobalt). The presence of potentially allergenic metals was even higher among flip phones: 91 percent of them tested positive for nickel and 52 percent contained cobalt.
The researchers note that hypersensitivity to metals is on the rise, though more research is needed to determine whether metals in cell phones contribute to the development of such allergies, especially facial dermatitis (marked by itchy, dry skin in the area that's come into contact with an allergen).
In the meantime, although the study was small and not yet published, it probably makes sense for people with known allergies to use a non-BlackBerry smart phone, especially if they've noticed facial symptoms after using one of the phones found to contain metal.
If you're thinking of upgrading, check our smart phone Ratings to see how current models fared in our tests.
Blackberry vs. iPhone. There is a Winner, for your Health. [American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology]