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That Ducky Could Be Yucky

Added December 19, 2019, Under: Children's Health, Diseases, Environment


Young children just love playing at bath time.

What can be more fun than sitting in all that warmth with water and toys all around you to push, pull, pour and put underneath the surface – and plastic toys are often used for obvious reasons.

Now someone has taken the trouble to cut one of those yellow plastic ducks in half!

And apparently, it is not a pretty sight!

Your children’s bath toys could be infested with bacteria and fecal matter

Young children just love playing at bath time.
What can be more fun than sitting in all that warmth with water and toys all around you to push, pull, pour and put underneath the surface – and plastic toys are often used for obvious reasons.
Now someone has taken the trouble to cut one of those yellow plastic ducks in half!

And apparently, it is not a pretty sight!

This is what the person (Bruce Lee) who made the decision to chop the duck in half found:

“The results were duck, duck, gross. The inside of every toy had a dense biofilm, which is not a movie about biology but a slimy layer of bacteria. While in many cases this bioflim was dark-colored as a result of concurrent mold growth, a number of the biofilms were clear and transparent. There was lots of bacteria and fungi, as many as 75 million cells per square centimeter. Many different types of bacteria and fungi were present. Some of them were potentially harmful to humans. Possible disease-causing bacteria included Pseudomonas aeruginosa, E. coli, and various species of Listeria, Enterococci. Klebsiella, Chlamydia, and Clostridia. Possible disease causing fungi included Phialophora and Cryptococcus.”

These microbes don’t thrive on tap water (which is typically low on nutrients) but on the plastics of the toys themselves.

Take a moment to think about what happens when children squeeze the water out of that bath toy!   It could be a very yucky and mucky ducky.

So what is the solution?

  • Get rid of squishy or squirty bath toys (which appear to be the main culprits) and clean the other ones regularly.
  • Air dry bath toys after each use, preferably somewhere away from the family toilet.
  • Periodically run them through the dishwasher or hand wash them with soap and clean water (not bath water).
  • Avoid toys with holes in them or…
  • Give up using bath toys altogether and instead change to plastic kitchen utensils.  I find with my own grandchildren that they enjoy playing with beakers, scoops, funnels, water bottles and more.  Items that have no hidden insides but can easily go into the dishwasher or washing up sink regularly and get a really good clean.  Such items provide a good scientific learning exercise at the same time.

That bathwater

The water you bath your child in quickly becomes a “bacteria soup” in which the toys can marinate, remembering that because the bath can be sited near the toilet, flushing can spread germs, bacterial and fecal matter as far as twenty feet!

Just as a postscript

Every Easter in our English village, they hold a duck race along the stream that runs through the village.  There are about two to three hundred plastic yellow ducks that are re-used every year.  These are numbered and you choose a number, hand over a donation and you are in with a chance of your chosen duck doing well in the race and winning you a prize.

Writing this post has made me think about those ducks – and what they must be harboring inside their tummies after all these years of sailing downstream every year!  After the race, they are collected up and stored away ready to use again the next year.

 

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