Dishwashers are a breeding ground for killer bugs.

SOURCE: THE DAILY MAIL 22nd June 2011.

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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.

Researchers found 62 per cent of dishwashers contained the fungi Exophiala dermatitidis and E. phaeomuriformis on the rubber band in the door. Both of the black yeasts are known to be dangerous to human health.

Both Exophiala species displayed remarkable tolerance to heat, high salt concentrations, aggressive detergents and to both acid and alkaline water.

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.

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