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I was interested to read this week, that researchers had found that harmful bacteria on sewage-associated plastic waste, washed up on beaches, can survive long enough to pose a risk to human health. The team at the University of Stirling, found that bacteria such as E. coli and intestinal enterococci were binding to these plastics more often than to naturally occurring materials such as seaweed and sand, thereby prolonging their persistence in the water and at the beach. The presence of faecal bacteria could also potentially lead to outbreaks of norovirus, rotavirus and salmonella. "Some of the plastic waste could be from legacy sewage spills that have persisted in the environment, but the volume of waste we are seeing is shocking," said Professor Richard Quilliam, whose team collected plastic waste from 10 beaches along the Firth of Forth estuary in Scotland. "We expected to collect a few wet wipes everywhere, but the team came back with bags of them."
The team also found evidence that species of vibrio - a naturally occurring bacteria, some strains of which can cause a severe upset stomach - were able to colonise wet wipes. And they found high rates of antimicrobial resistance present in the bacteria on the wipes and cotton bud sticks. The research is part of the £1.85 million 'Plastic Vectors' project - funded by the Natural Environment Research Council - which is investigating how plastics in the environment can help transport bacteria and viruses and the impact that may have on human health. The paper is at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article
Finally, I'm always pleased when what I produce in Cleanzine makes an impact but even more so when it prompts a 'letter to the editor' from an old friend & ex-colleague - in this case Australia's Alan Hardcastle, whom you may remember as the highly-respected publisher of Inclean magazine for many years. Alan's email, which features below, picked up on my praise last week of ISSA/Pulire’s Toni D'Andrea's thinking about the need to elevate cleaning to the status of ‘an investment’, when so many people wrongly look upon it as being just ‘a cost’. I hadn't realised until I received Alan's email, that Toni's thoughts aren't new - and possibly as a result of the shift the pandemic has brought about - but rather something that Toni's carried in his heart for many years. Like Alan, I believe this is a message that we as an industry need to share with everyone.
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9th June 2022