My dishwasher is trying to kill me! Deadly bacteria found in household appliancesBy Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 1:02 PM on 22nd June 2011
Dishwashers are a breeding ground for potentially killer bugs, say scientists.
The moist and hot environment serves as a perfect habitat for two types of dangerous fungi which can also be found in other kitchen appliances such as washing machines and coffee machines.
This explains why the fungi survived even in high temperatures between 60 to 80C and despite the use of detergents and salt in the dishwasher.
Researchers say that this is a combination of extreme properties not previously observed in fungi.
Exophiala dermatitidis is frequently encountered as an agent of human disease and is also known to colonise in the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis.
On rare occasions it has caused fatal infections in healthy humans.
The researchers, whose findings are published in Fungal Biology, say the invasion of black yeasts into our homes is a potential health risk.
Biologist Dr Polona Zalar, of the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and colleagues said: 'The discovery of this widespread presence of extremophilic fungi in some of our common household appliances suggests these organisms have embarked on an extraordinary evolutionary process that could pose a significant risk to human health in the future.'
In the case of dishwashers, high temperatures are intermittently produced and aggressive detergents and high concentrations of salt are used in each washing cycle.
They added: 'Enrichment of fungi that may require specific environmental conditions was observed in dishwashers, 189 of which were sampled in private homes of 101 towns or communities.
'One-hundred-and-two were sampled from various localities in Slovenia; 42 from other European countries; 13 and 3 from North and South America, respectively; 5 from Israel; 10 from South Africa; 7 from Far East Asia; and 7 from Australia.
'Sixty-two per cent of the dishwashers were positive for fungi, and 56 per cent of these accommodated Exophiala. Both Exophiala species are known to be able to cause systemic disease in humans and frequently colonise the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis.
'We conclude that high temperature, high moisture and alkaline values typically occurring in dishwashers can provide an alternative habitat for species also known to be pathogenic to humans.'