Scientists Have Dirt on the Rubber Ducky

Many parents have long suspected it and now scientists are confirming the popular bath time toy is a breeding ground for nasty bugs, germs, and scum.

Swiss and American researchers recently announced the results of a study in which they counted the microbes swimming inside the toy. They note dirty liquid taken from inside the toy contained “potentially pathogenic bacteria” in four out of the five toys tested.

The bacteria found included Legionella and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is “often implicated in hospital-acquired infections.”

They noted a high volume of bacteria existed, up to 75 million cells per square centimeter (0.15 square inch) along with a variety of bacteria and fugus. Some bacteria is known to actually help strengthen a child’s immune system, but some can also lead to ear, eye, and even intestinal infections, according to researchers.

‘Following the comparison of biofilms grown in clean and dirty water controls, we concluded that the coverage as well as the composition of these biofilm communities depended on the combination of four main factors namely: (1) the flexible plastic material that is releasing AOC and therefore favoring microbial growth; (2) the tap water microbiome that introduces specific microorganisms, potentially including opportunistic pathogens, to the bath toys; (3) additional nutrients in the dirty bath water due to personal care products and human body fluids; and (4) additional bacteria originating from both the user microbiome and environmental contamination. As this was a fundamental characterization study of such bath toy biofilms, further investigations for detailed risk assessment are needed.’

Researchers have suggested changing the material in the plastic to reduce the potential for bacteria growth, but they have not officially made recommendations at this time. Many retailers have also started offering bath toys that do not allow water to enter the toy.

Michaela Madison Reporting

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