Scientists have studied the cleanliness of rubber duckies and have found that they're not clean at all. They found that the rubber ducks were home for tons of bacteria that can be harmful to children's health.
It's the water that lingers inside of this toy that creates a haven for bacteria.
Microbes In The Toys
Swiss and Americans researchers from Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, ETH, and the University of Illinois published a study in the journal Biofilms and Microbiomes regarding the risk that bath toys can pose on the user's health.
Researchers found that the water that stayed inside of a bath toy, such as a rubber duck, contained potentially pathogenic bacteria. They found four out of five toys contained the bacteria when squeezed.
Bacteria found inside of the toys includes Legionella and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Inside of the rubber ducks, scientists found a high volume of bacteria and fungi, up to 75 million cells per square centimeter.
There are differences in the bacteria that could be found due to the variation of tap water in separate locations. Nutrients in tap water don't contribute to excessive microbial growth. The main source of the microorganisms in the bath toys is bath water.
In the bath water, the water comes into contact with the human microbiome and with environmental contamination. Bath water has nutrients for microbial growth, they can come from the soap and shampoo being used and from the human body.
Effects On Users
The study says that even though exposure to bacteria and fungi isn't bad for health, it can also help strengthen the immune system. The problem is that the majority of bath toys are being used by children, and children tend to be more sensitive and vulnerable to disease.
When children play with these toys and squeeze the water onto their face, this could lead to eye, ear, wound, or gastrointestinal tract infections.
Scientists recommend that the toys be thoroughly cleaned in order to avoid exposure to these infections. Recommendations include boiling the toys and removing water from the toys after using them in the bath. Scientists also recommended just closing the hole to make children safe from the water getting inside and avoid it altogether.
They have also recommended that there should be increased regulation on polymeric materials that are used to make bath toys. There are some bath toys being sold that are advertised as watertight.