Rubber ducks may be ideal for baths, but also for bacteria

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Rubber duck may be ideal for baths, but also for bacteria
Image credit: Flickr (CC) / Chan Yiu Hao

Rubber ducks are synonymous with baths. They are the first thing that pops up in the mind of anyone who sees a bath tub. But, it turns out, they are also ideal for bacteria. A lot of bacteria.

A new survey by the Swiss Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, ETH Zurich and the University of Illinois reveals some interesting data. It turns out the cute rubber ducks have a very murky secret.

Most rubber ducks have a hole which allows water to get inside. This creates a great “home” for bacteria, the researchers say.

In fact, they say the water that comes out of such a toy contains potentially pathogenic bacteria. The bacteria found included Legionella and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium that is “often implicated in hospital-acquired infections”, Stuff reports, citing the study.

The researchers studied 5 rubber ducks in great details. They say they found up to 75 million cells per square centimeter. A lot of them are a variety of bacteria and fungus.

The researchers says some of the bacteria can help kids strengthen their immune system. But on the whole, most of the bacteria found in rubber ducks can lead to infections. The scientists, who received funding from the Swiss government as part of broader research into household objects, say using higher-quality polymers to make the ducks could prevent bacterial and fungal growth.

Sadly, the researchers aren’t saying if cleaning the inside of a rubber duck with soapy water or something will help lower the amount of bacteria. One would think so, but then the toy also has to be able to dry out on the inside. And as it’s a rubber bath toy, that’s not likely to happen with daily baths.

So, maybe you are better off with a more quality rubber duck toy. And also, change them more often. At least until, the researchers figure something out.