Breaking News
April 25, 2018 - Studies provide advanced knowledge about renal cancer
April 25, 2018 - Researchers develop low-cost, portable laboratory on a phone to detect infections
April 25, 2018 - Early treatment improves leg ulcer healing rates
April 25, 2018 - U.S. FDA and European Medicines Agency Accept Regulatory Submissions for Review of Dacomitinib to Treat Metastatic Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer with EGFR-Activating Mutations
April 25, 2018 - Redefined Alzheimer’s biology has implications for drug design
April 25, 2018 - BetterYou’s Iron Oral Spray recognized as ‘Best New Health and Nutrition Product’
April 24, 2018 - New imaging technology to effectively screen for colorectal cancer among young adults
April 24, 2018 - UW developmental psychologist wins 2018 Alan T. Waterman Award
April 24, 2018 - Adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells combined with fibrin matrix influences restoration of motor functions
April 24, 2018 - Exposure to toxin found in sheep may be linked to development of MS
April 24, 2018 - FDA Approves Intravenous Formulation of Akynzeo (fosnetupitant/palonosetron) for Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting
April 24, 2018 - Is Alzheimer’s caused by disruptions to the brain’s energy supply?
April 24, 2018 - Low concentrations of antibiotics can develop high antibiotic resistance in bacteria
April 24, 2018 - Imagined and real movements have similar brain mechanisms, research suggests
April 24, 2018 - Alcoholic drinks affect oral bacteria tied to diseases
April 24, 2018 - Mechanism in Non-Contact ACL Tears Similar in Men, Women
April 24, 2018 - Buprenorphine may be safer than methadone if treatment duration is longer, study suggests
April 24, 2018 - NF-κB1 gene known to drive cancer development is critical for preventing stomach cancers
April 24, 2018 - New tool helps blind, low-vision users navigate modern webpages more easily
April 24, 2018 - Hippo pathway plays essential role in embryonic development of the mouse heart
April 24, 2018 - Vegetarian diet and Mediterranean diet close to each other in health benefits
April 24, 2018 - FSU receives $1.5 million federal grant for innovative suicide prevention research
April 24, 2018 - Health Tip: Screening for Cancer in Older Adults
April 24, 2018 - Investigators highlight potential of exercise in addressing substance abuse in teens
April 24, 2018 - Study shows people might develop dementia later and live with it for a shorter period of time
April 24, 2018 - EMBL scientists develop new illumination method to manage neuropathic pain
April 24, 2018 - New compound could offer pain-relieving properties without risk of addiction
April 24, 2018 - New drug treatment could be promising therapeutic approach for millions with asthma
April 24, 2018 - Study provides guidance on using cannabis for treatment of stress, anxiety, and depression
April 24, 2018 - By Royal approval: Queen’s Award success for Elucigene
April 24, 2018 - The role of ‘extra’ DNA in cancer evolution and therapy resistance
April 24, 2018 - Researchers identify tools that caregivers could use to detect delirium in older adults
April 24, 2018 - What to Look Out For
April 24, 2018 - Drugs prescribed for newborns vary widely between NICUs, study finds
April 24, 2018 - FM4200 pressure-resistant mass flow meter from Sensirion
April 24, 2018 - Study links past experiences with bias and avoidance of doctors in women with higher BMI
April 24, 2018 - Role of extrachromosomal pieces of DNA in cancer development and treatment resistance
April 24, 2018 - Rehabilitation technique for stroke appears beneficial for multiple sclerosis patients
April 24, 2018 - Women who find purpose and meaning in life less likely to have anxiety, study shows
April 24, 2018 - Catalyst Pharmaceuticals Announces Submission of New Drug Application for Firdapse for Treatment of Lambert-Eaton Myasthenic Syndrome
April 24, 2018 - Suicide and homicide rates show large racial disparities across US states
April 24, 2018 - Scientists develop tissue-engineered models to better understand cancer metastases
April 24, 2018 - NuProbe to commercialize Wyss Institute’s new technology to facilitate precision medicine
April 24, 2018 - Special series explores pasteurized donor human milk use for hospitalized infants
April 24, 2018 - Slight changes in patient’s position during radiotherapy may impact survival chances
April 24, 2018 - FDA Approves Tagrisso (osimertinib) as First-Line Treatment for EGFR-Mutated Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
April 24, 2018 - After knee replacement, play on
April 24, 2018 - Contact precautions do not limit spread of drug-resistant bacteria in ICUs
April 24, 2018 - Researchers discover genetic catalysts that accelerate evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria
April 24, 2018 - WPI researcher launches mobile app for assessing perinatal depression in women
April 24, 2018 - Researchers identify superior blood-based biomarker for assessing sports-related concussions
April 24, 2018 - Gene Therapy Found to Be Promising for β-Thalassemia
April 24, 2018 - Bariatric surgery can lead to changes in relationship status
April 24, 2018 - GPs must embrace digital technologies to make healthcare access easier for patients
April 24, 2018 - Novel stem cell therapy may transform current paradigms for treating heart failure patients
April 24, 2018 - Maternal depression during and after pregnancy linked to poorer child neurodevelopment
April 24, 2018 - Vitamin D and magnesium supplements provide right nutritional support to athletes
April 24, 2018 - Could a Tattoo Someday Spot Your Cancer?
April 24, 2018 - Throat reflexes differ in people with tetraplegia and sleep apnea
April 24, 2018 - Study shows no increased risk of breast cancer recurrence after DIEP flap reconstruction
April 24, 2018 - Nearly three-quarters of commonly used medical scopes tainted by bacteria
April 24, 2018 - Home-based treatment program offers robust and sustained relief for IBS patients
April 24, 2018 - New IntelliCyt Cy-Clone PLUS streamlines clone ranking and selection for cell line development
April 24, 2018 - Scientists examine how specific eating patterns could help fight cancer and obesity
April 24, 2018 - Study sheds new light on how bilinguals process language
April 24, 2018 - Probiotics can improve liver health, shows study
April 24, 2018 - Study may explain how chemoresistance evolves over time in some triple-negative breast cancers
April 24, 2018 - Role of midbrain in encoding identity errors
April 23, 2018 - Salamander study provides clues for treating spinal cord injuries
April 23, 2018 - Relaxation after work could give better night’s sleep
April 23, 2018 - Loneliness on its way to becoming Britain’s most lethal condition
April 23, 2018 - Low-cost blood test for multiple myeloma can deliver same diagnostic information as bone biopsy
April 23, 2018 - Metabolic differences may contribute to postpartum weight retention in black moms
April 23, 2018 - Time-Related Deployment Factors Predict Suicide Attempt Risk
April 23, 2018 - Are newborns ugly? Research says newborns rated ‘less cute’ than older babies
April 23, 2018 - Prenatal marijuana use linked to increased chance of low birth weights
April 23, 2018 - Researchers identify target gene in P. aeruginosa infection
April 23, 2018 - New studies related to causes of liver degradation and possible treatments
April 23, 2018 - Studies offer leads for new approaches to treat neurological problems
April 23, 2018 - Promising cell study may offer new opportunities for treating Parkinson’s disease
should rubber ducks be banned from the bath?

should rubber ducks be banned from the bath?

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Dark side of bath toys. Credit: Andri Bryner, Eawag

Scientific curiosity knows no bounds: a group of Swiss and US researchers have delved into “the dark side” of inviting rubber ducks and other flexible plastic toys into our tubs.

Any plastic materials dunked in bathwater provide ideal conditions for bacterial and fungal growth, according to the conclusions of the joint study, published Tuesday by the Swiss government.

“Dense growths of bacteria and fungi are found on the inner surface of these flexible toys, and a murky liquid will often be released when they are squeezed by a child,” the Swiss government statement said.

The researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology EAWAG, the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School and the University of Illinois found that “diverse microbial growth is promoted not only by the plastic materials but by bath users themselves.”

For their study, they carried out experiments with real bath toys and controls using new bath toys under conditions simulating household use.

Over a period of 11 weeks, they exposed some of the toys to clean and others to dirty bath water, containing things like soap and body fluids.

When they cut open the toys, “the findings sound unappetising: between five million and 75 million cells per square centimetre were observed on the inner surfaces,” according to the summary of the report.

The researchers stressed though that there was a big difference between the plastic toys exposed to different types of water.

“Fungal species were detected in almost 60 percent of the real bath toys and in all the dirty-water control toys,” the statement said.

“Potentially pathogenic bacteria were identified in 80 percent of all the toys studied, including Legionella and Pseudomonas aeruginosa,” which is often the culprit in hospital-acquired infections, it added.

The main problem is that warm water gathers inside the toy, often made of low-quality polymers, which release organic carbon compounds that serve as nutrients to growing bacteria colonies.

“During bathing, other key nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as additional bacteria, are contributed by the human body (body fluids such as urine and sweat), external contaminants and personal care products,” according to the study.

This allows bacteria and fungi to multiply inside of a toy children often enjoy using to squirt water into their faces.

“This could strengthen the immune system, which would be positive, but it can also result in eye, ear, or even gastrointestinal infections,” microbiologist Frederik Hammes pointed out in Tuesday’s statement.

So should we toss the ducks out with the bathwater? Or as some suggest on Internet comment forums, simply plug their holes to avoid the accumulation in their cavity?

Hammes suggests a more scientific approach: tighter regulations on the polymeric materials used to produce bath toys.


Explore further:
Study suggests giving kids too many toys stifles their creativity

More information:
Lisa Neu et al. Ugly ducklings—the dark side of plastic materials in contact with potable water, npj Biofilms and Microbiomes (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41522-018-0050-9

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles