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Friday, April 6, 2018

Spring showers leave bath toys in the dust

According to the calendar, spring has arrived.  According to the temperature outside, I would say that Mother Nature is a bit confused. Today started out at -4C (25F) with snow on my vehicle. In my neck of the woods, the average temperature ranges from a low of 4C (39F) to a high of 12C (53F). It’s April, I do not expect or want to see snow. It’s spring! The birds are singing, plants are starting to show signs of life and I have started spring cleaning and wardrobe changing. For me this also means moving from socks and boots to my favorite bare feet and shoes. My exposed ankles were not loving the cold wind this morning! 

Spring cleaning is quite literally a “thing”.  So much so that last year a survey was conducted online among 1,015 U.S. adults, ages 18+. The survey showed that 66% of respondents participate in spring cleaning. Most people reported that spring cleaning leads to a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of rejuvenation after clearing out all the clutter. Of the areas to be targeted for the most thorough cleaning, the bathroom tends to be the room that gets the most thorough clean (62%), followed by the kitchen at (60%) while bedrooms are close behind at 58%.

After reading a study that was just published in Biofilms and Microbiomes, I’m glad to hear that our bathrooms are the areas that get the most attention, but suspect some of the germiest items are overlooked!  I mean who thinks that our beloved rubber ducky would be the harbinger of doom. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your train of thought, scientific curiosity knows no bounds.  Those who have a passion to understand biofilms know that any plastic material that is dunked in bathwater provide ideal conditions for bacterial and fungal growth. Yes, those cute little squeezie toys that we so love to suck water into and then squirt it out to peals of belly laughs from our sweet little loved ones can hold dense growths of bacteria and fungi not to mention murky water that may also come squirting out.

Over an 11 week period the researchers exposed some of the toys to clean water and others dirty water containing soap and body fluids.  The results were unappetizing to say the least. When they cut the toys open they found between 5 and 75 MILLION cells per cm2. Regardless of water, 80% of the toys were found to contain potentially pathogenic bacteria including Pseudomonas and Legionella.  All toys exposed to the dirty water were found to have fungal contamination, but don’t think that made the “clean-water” toys better….60% of them were found to have fungal contamination.

Should we ban the duck?  I’m not sure about that, but then my son has hit the age where he’s not playing with bath toys. If I were to do it again, I may consider twice what types of toys I buy to play with or at the very least try to find a way to plug any holes so that water cannot get inside!  Why do I say that?  Well, as the saying goes…a picture is worth a thousand words….and the picture for this blog are from my son’s bath toys that we still have that have not be played with in well over a year.   Who know a Hippo could be so gross looking inside!

Bugging Off!


PS – you can be assured, the bath toys are being swept out in this year’s spring cleaning!

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