Your Rubber Ducky Is a Breeding Ground for Fungi and Bacteria

The rubber ducky you bring into your child's bath isn't as innocent as its smiling face suggests. New findings published in npj Biofilms and Microbiomes shows that bath toys made from flexible plastic materials can attract and spread harmful microbes during bath time.

Medical Xpress reports that for the study, researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology EAWAG, the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School, and the University of Illinois looked at two groups of toys: old bath toys collected from real homes, and new toys they exposed to clean water and bath water over the course of several weeks. What researchers found, after cutting the toys open, wasn't pretty. "All bath toys analyzed in this study had dense and slimy biofilms on the inner surface," the study reads. The old toys also contained dark patches suggesting mold growth, while the biofilms in the newer toys were transparent.

Potentially pathogenic bacteria, including Legionella (the cause of Legionnaires' disease) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (associated with hospital-acquired infections), were found in 80 percent of all the toys studied. Fungi were also abundant: Fungal growth was detected in nearly 60 percent of the household bath toys and in all of the newer ones tested in dirty water.

When we take a bath, our bodies leach trace amounts of urine, sweat, and fecal matter into the water. Squeezing a bath toy like a rubber duck causes it to suck up that warm liquid and the gunk it contains. The interior of this toy is the ideal place for fungi and bacteria to flourish: The flexible polymer walls release organic carbon compounds which feed the new microbe populations. And when a kid squeezes a bath toy that's full of water, hopefully away from their face, all that bacteria comes squirting out and into the water they're bathing in.

If you want to make bath time a little cleaner, one solution is replacing your traditional rubber bath toys with alternative ones that aren't squeezable bacteria magnets. Unfortunately, that probably means retiring your rubber ducky.

[h/t Medical Xpress]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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More Than 38,000 Pounds of Ground Beef Has Been Recalled

Beef-ware.
Beef-ware.
Angele J, Pexels

Your lettuce-based summer salads are safe for the moment, but there are other products you should be careful about using these days: Certain brands of hand sanitizer, for example, have been recalled for containing methanol. And as Real Simple reports, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) recently recalled 38,406 pounds of ground beef.

When JBS Food Canada ULC shipped the beef over the border from its plant in Alberta, Canada, it somehow skirted the import reinspection process, so FSIS never verified that it met U.S. food safety standards. In other words, we don’t know if there’s anything wrong with it—and no reports of illness have been tied to it so far—but eating unapproved beef is simply not worth the risk.

The beef entered the country on July 13 as raw, frozen, boneless head meat products, and Balter Meat Company processed it into 80-pound boxes of ground beef. It was sent to holding locations in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina before heading to retailers that may not be specific to those four states. According to a press release, FSIS will post the list of retailers on its website after it confirms them.

In the meantime, it’s up to consumers to toss any ground beef with labels that match those here [PDF]. Keep an eye out for lot codes 2020A and 2030A, establishment number 11126, and use-or-freeze-by dates August 9 and August 10.

[h/t Real Simple]