The dirt on germs at the playground--and beyond

Consumer Reports News: July 29, 2008 04:36 PM

Your local playground is more germ-infested than a public bathroom, according to a recent University of Arizona study. Why? “Restrooms tend to get disinfected often,” says Kelly Reynolds, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Arizona College of Public Health, the study’s lead researcher. “But playground equipment almost never gets cleaned.”

Harmful germs—such as those in the mucous that kids wipe from their noses with their hands—can linger for days. Sandboxes are icky too: Squirrels and birds that get into them can leave behind fecal matter, which has been linked to salmonella and skin infections in young kids.

Germ defense: Tempted to clean ladders and handles with a disinfecting wipe? Don’t bother. It’s almost impossible to keep up with all the germs. Instead, teach your child not to touch his mouth, nose, or eyes when he’s at the playground. Clean his hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel before you leave the park. If you have a backyard sandbox, keep it covered when you’re not using it.

See our report on shopping-cart covers and our child safety section for more information.


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