London - Motorists are being urged to clean the air conditioning units in their cars after researchers found potentially dangerous bacteria living and breeding in systems.
With the weather warming up in the northern hemisphere, the study shows drivers may be putting their health at risk when they reach for the cool switch. Bacteria associated with meningitis, urinary tract infections and septic arthritis were among the many types discovered in air conditioning filters.
Swabs of 15 air conditioning filters were taken from cars across the UK and sent for laboratory analysis. Micro-organisms were detected in all of the filters tested at London Metropolitan University.
The most common was Bacillus licheniformis, a bacteria most commonly associated with birds and soil. Eight out of 15 of the filters tested positive for this micro-organism, which is among a type of bacteria known to cause food poisoning.
Bacillus subtillis and Bacillus were the second most common micro-organisms found. Bactillus subtillis are normally found in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and some mammals. They generally do not cause disease but have been known to cause septicaemia in a patient with leukaemia.