Plastic sheets are among the household items you probably avoid because they are hard to wash, brittle and often make a mess in the dishwasher.
But a new study from The Irish Light has found that if you use low-cost plastic sheets to cover your sink, bathtub or shower, you are helping the environment by helping to stop the spread of a devastating bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa, or P. aeruginosus, which can cause anemia, kidney failure and even cancer.
A study of 1,743 people found that using a low-price plastic sheet to cover sink drains and bathtubs helped to reduce the number of new P. albicans infections and was linked to reduced risk of urinary tract infections.
The research is published in the journal PLOS One.
“The research is clear, this is a major public health issue and we need to be very concerned about it,” said Dr Claire Darragh, an epidemiologist and lead author of the study.
“Low-cost, low-pollution products, such as these low-profile plastic sheets, could help to reduce this issue.”
The study also found that the prevalence of P. airuginosa infections among low-income households, which are often poor and live in the inner city, increased by 17 per cent, and among households with more than three children the prevalence increased by 19 per cent.
“Our findings show that low-priced plastic sheet coverings are a viable way to prevent and contain the spread and spread of this highly resistant bacteria,” said lead author Dr David McClellan, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Trinity College Dublin.
“It’s a huge cost-saving measure and the use of these products should be encouraged by consumers, as these products are cheap and can be easily cleaned and reused.”
The researchers believe that the spread could be curbed by reducing the number and types of household items that are used in sinks and tubs.
“We found that people were using a lot of low-quality plastic sheet products and were washing them, washing their hands and washing their dishes and that this is linked to the transmission of the P. africanus bacteria, which is also associated with bladder cancer,” Dr Darrag said.
The researchers also found an association between low-density polyethylene (low-DPE) sheets and the spread, and that these products were more likely to be used as sinks.
“Although this study did not have the best data yet, the findings suggest that using low-DPEs is associated with a reduction in the spread,” said co-author Dr Sarah Maclean, a research associate in the department of epidemics at Trinity.
“This suggests that the use is not limited to only the sink, but the whole home, which means it can be a very cost-effective and very practical way to reduce pollution.”
‘The health of the water’ A plastic sheet can be purchased for less than €5, and can last up to 10 years.
“These products have been shown to be more cost-efficient than traditional products, and have been widely used across the world,” Dr Maclean said.
“But this study highlights the need for people to think about the health of their water supply and to take steps to minimise their environmental impact.”
The research also found a strong association between the use and transmission of P .
“Using low-budget, low polluting products is a key part of reducing the spread because these products can be recycled and reused,” Dr McClellans said.
P. agnes has been found to be resistant to antibiotics, as well as the common cold, and has been linked to kidney failure, heart disease and cancers.
However, because the spread is rare, there are not many studies to demonstrate a causal link between these infections and low-level plastic sheet use.
“With so many people using low prices, there is a lot to be done to reduce their use,” Dr Mclellan said.
In the future, it will be important for consumers to consider the health impact of their use.