Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology and the University of Illinois have teamed up to provide a study into common household items that can potentially harbour dangerous bacteria.
Items like children’s rubber ducks and other bath toys were tested and the results of the study showed that water from those toys could pose a serious put at risk of eye, ear and stomach infections – with bugs found including Legionella and drug-resistant superbugs that can cause death.
Over 11 weeks the scientists simulated typical bathtime conditions with the toys, before cutting them in half and examining the bacteria that had grown inside them, and the results were startling.
‘The researchers found between 5 million and 75 million cells per square centimetre inside the toys, with potentially pathogenic bacteria identified in 80% of all the toys studied, including Legionella and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium often implicated in hospital-acquired infections.
The study added that children who “enjoy squirting water from bath toys into their faces” are most at risk.’
Other household items that can harbour alarming amounts of harmful bacteria included:
- Baby Blankets, which Dr Lisa Ackerley said that the care taken is often not enough. “It is shocking that 20 per cent of parents wash their children’s comfort blankets or soft toys at a frequency of only once every six months or less. These items could become very dirty over time, and pick up all sorts of micro-organisms from the floor, wherever they are dropped.”
- Mattresses: while the standard is that you should get a new one every seven years, according to Ohio State University researchers, between 100,000 and 10 million mites are believed to live in a typical used mattress, and a standard mattress will collect up to 454g of dead skin cells a year – the equivalent weight of a loaf of bread.
- Carpets: “Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there,” comments Paul Fildes from Rugdoctor.co.uk . “A carpet acts like a filter, trapping dirt deep within its pile.” A recent survey found that around 40% of people wear their outdoor shoes inside the house. This means a high number of germs and traces of animal and human gut and faecal bacteria are being transferred to our floors. Then there are the dust, house dust mites and pet hair that get trapped on our carpets and can cause allergies.”
- Drinking beakers or cups for children: In 2016 Tommy Tippee, a huge American children’s goods brand, was forced to recall three million sippy cups after a parent discovered mould on the inside of his child’s Tommy Tippee beaker and warned other parents to check the anti-leak feature on similar sippy cups. Children’s drinking vessels in particular should be treated with greater care and cleaned thoroughly after every use.