You may have heard several reports in the past week about your dishwasher cultivating a horrifying black slime that could kill you and everyone that you love. There is a good chance that your dishwasher is harboring a nasty fungus. However, reports of your appliance-related demise have been greatly exaggerated.
MSNBC was the latest news outlet to print a frightening tale about what lurks in your dishwasher. It reported today on a new study in the journal Fungal Biology (today's hottest fungus-related medical journal) that involved scientists swabbing the rubber seals on dishwasher doors:
Researchers collected microbial samples from 189 dishwashers in 18 countries, including Australia, South Africa, China and Slovenia. They were stunned to discover that 62 percent of the dishwashers tested positive for fungi. And 56 percent had a fungal species known as Exophiala, a kind of black yeast that looks like black slime.
"We were surprised to find some fungi that are extremely rare in nature but had really high numbers in dishwashers," says Nina Gunde-Cimerman, a professor of microbiology at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia.
The researchers concluded that, "the invasion of black yeasts into our homes represent a potential health risk." This spawned dozens of frightening reports about dishwasher safety, but Dana Davis, an associate professor of microbiology at the University of Minnesota, says we should save the hysteria for the mold spores growing in our basements. (What?!) He told MinnPost:
"I can't see any reasons why this [study] should raise any warning bells at all. There's really no correlation between these dishwashers, the fungi and human health."
Dr. Aaron Devries, a medical epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health, added that the fungi:
"Are a widely distributed group of fungi found in soil, water, and many other diverse environments ... They make people sick only in circumstances where their immune system is highly affected such as persons who have received an organ transplant, bone marrow transplant or have a congenital disease affecting the immune system like cystic fibrosis. These individuals are given special instructions by their health-care provider on how to minimize their exposure to common organisms like these fungi."
If you'd like, you can limit fungi growth by making sure your dishwasher dries out thoroughly between cycles or wiping the seal with a cloth. Problem solved! Now let's figure out how to deal with those terrifying mold spores.
Image via Alexander Raths/Shutterstock.