Study: Playgrounds are dirtier than bathroom toilets

Study: Playgrounds are dirtier than bathroom toilets
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Ever feel like kids today grow up in a bubble? Well, when you read this, you might understand why!

Read more: Dangers of filthy fast food restaurant playgrounds

Gross stuff on the playground!

A new study by found that high-traffic areas on playgrounds like rock walls, baby swings and seesaws each have 9 million colony-forming units (CFUs) per square inch. That’s more than 52,000 times more bacteria than your toilet seat at home! 

playgrounds are dirtier than bathroom toilets

Another major problem area is the slide at a playground. That has an average of 6 million CFU/sq. in. at both the top and the bottom. 

‘Kids racing down the slide at an outdoor playground may actually encounter around 60,000 times more bacteria than they would at the top of the slide at the local fast food joint or other indoor play area,’ the study notes.

Why the disparity between locations? Because indoor playground are cleaned and disinfected regularly. That’s not the case with public parks.

playgrounds are dirtier than bathroom toilets

As for the methodology used in this study, researchers tested 11 different pieces of playground equipment at three different playgrounds, including an indoor playground, using sterile swabs provided by a laboratory.

Common household items like toothbrush holders, bathroom faucets, dog-food bowls, toilets and more were also given a bacterial headcount to establish comparison values.

playgrounds are dirtier than bathroom toilets

Read more: Investigation reveals bouncy house health hazards

Tips to protect kids from germs and bacteria on the playground

It’s impossible to create an antiseptic world for kids. If we try to, our kids will likely be very susceptible to who knows what later in life because they haven’t built up any resistance.

The reality is kids get dirty and that’s as it should be. Every fall, when the kids go back to school, they get sick and it works its way through their system. That’s actually a good thing.

But if you’re concerned about excess bacteria on playground equipment, heed the following advice:

  • Use hand-sanitizing products from dispensers on playground sites.
  • When you get home, have your kids wash their hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after playing. This is especially important before meals.
  • Have your kids play on equipment that sits in the sun. Ultraviolet light kills bacteria. Shaded equipment is more likely to have higher bacterial counts.
Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo has co-written several books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller "Living Large in Lean Times."
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