Tuesday, April 10, 2018

How dirty is your duck?

Ugly ducklings—the dark side of plastic materials in contact with potable water

Bath todays are in common use (see this link).

They pose an interesting insight into biofilm formation and flexible plastic materials, water, external microbial and nutrient contamination,

These authors characterized biofilm communities inside 19 bath toys used under real conditions. All examined bath toys revealed slimy biofilms on their inner surface.

Total bacterial numbers averaged 5.5 million cells/cm2 (clean water controls), 9.5 million cells/cm2 (real bath toys), and 74  million cells/cm2 (dirty water controls). Bacterial community compositions were diverse, showing many rare taxa in real bath toys and rather distinct communities in control bath toys, with a noticeable difference between clean and dirty water control biofilms.

The authors argue that bath toy biofilms are influenced by (1) the organic carbon leaching from the plastic material, (2) the chemical and biological water quality, (3) additional nutrients from care products and human body fluids in the bath water, as well as, (4) additional bacteria from dirt and/or the end-users’ microbiome.

They conclude that toys from real households are colonized by dense biofilms with complex bacterial and fungal communities.

Comment: The purpose of this post is to remind us that biofilms form on plastic as well as metal. Of interest is that the biofilm did not come off the plastic easily - it had to be removed using an electric toothbrush (Oral-B®, Advanced Power).

These findings may have relevance in the revision of the plastic components of a total shoulder when infection is suspected.

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