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Is your grim student house killing you?

It’s a known stereotype that uni houses are gross, which whilst harsh in my experience is pretty accurate. Overflowing bins, dirty pots on every surface and mould growing in your shower leads to a less than ideal living environment. We all know that smell. More importantly, though, is this actually the reason for your three-year freshers’ flu? Is it actually super damaging to your health? Well, I’ve done some research and the answer is probably.

First things first the bins. Andy Muirhead conducted research on the impact of leaving your rubbish for two weeks (which is pretty standard in a uni house lets be realistic) to investigate the build up of harmful bacteria. To determine this, he collected two swaps of household rubbish, one that had been left for a week and the other for two, then cultured them in his lab (ew). His results were alarming because the ‘’weekly bin had produced over four million {bacteria}’’ and the ‘’fortnightly bin 240 million’’ (The bugs breeding in your bins, 2022) for reference the toilet seat he swapped produced 500. Just have a think about that, the place you keep food is that much dirtier than a toilet seat. Unsurprisingly, he then stated that their experiment shows that bacteria ‘’can build up to potentially dangerous levels after two weeks.’’ To make things worse it was then revealed that the ‘’two-week rubbish had incredibly high levels of the sort of organisms that make rubbish rot more quickly and produce the bad odours that attract rats.’’ (The bugs breeding in your bins, 2022) So if you don’t take your bin out, you’re more likely to be ill and to have rats, maybe actually sort out that rota.

Next, the dirty washing in your sink, also makes you sick. A public health and safety organisation called NSF International ‘’found potentially harmful microorganisms such as E. coli, salmonella and listeria on kitchen items that are often used for food preparation or storage.’’ (2022) Which whilst isolated in the sink is probably fine, the issue is it spreads around your kitchen so easily. As anything that touches the dirty pots is potentially contaminated so has potential to make you ill, eg if you put them on the worktop and don’t wipe it then unpack your food shop in the same space. Now think about a uni house that’s entire sides are covered. Nowhere is safe.

Finally, the mould that your landlord says is fine, is the reason you developed asthma. Our lord and saviour the NHS website claim Moulds produce allergens (substances that can cause an allergic reaction), irritants and, sometimes, toxic substances. Inhaling or touching mould spores may cause an allergic reaction, such as sneezing, a runny nose, red eyes and skin rash.’’ (Can damp and mould affect my health?, 2022) IE the fresher’s flu, which makes sense why everyone in your flat got ill after moving in even though you’re all from hull. Moreover, more significantly, ‘’Moulds can also cause asthma attacks’’ (Can damp and mould affect my health?, 2022)

Overall, your options are clean, move out, or set the entire thing on fire and relocate under a bridge. Its probably cleaner.

Mail Online. 2022. The bugs breeding in your bins. [online] Available at: <https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-453409/The-bugs-breeding-bins.html> [Accessed 27 April 2022].

Eu.usatoday.com. 2022. [online] Available at: <https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/09/26/health-kitchen-germs/2880125/> [Accessed 27 April 2022].

nhs.uk. 2022. Can damp and mould affect my health?. [online] Available at: <https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/lifestyle/can-damp-and-mould-affect-my-health/#:~:text=How%20does%20it%20affect%20your,can%20also%20cause%20asthma%20attacks.> [Accessed 27 April 2022].

Lucy Jeffs
Lucy Jeffs
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