Photo: Sarah Gilbert (Flickr)
Dear A Moment of Science,
My kids are in elementary school, and they keep picking up germs there and getting sick. At least that’s what I think is happening. It’s probably the school bathrooms that are the problem spots for germs, right?
It’s certainly true that schools harbor lots of germs, but surprisingly, bathrooms are not particularly bad when it comes to catching them.
Schools tend to clean bathrooms pretty carefully. But the same can’t be said for cafeteria trays and tables, classroom desks, and drinking fountain spigots. They get cleaned, but not always well enough, and so germs accumulate.
For example, at least one study has found that school water fountain spigots harbor almost 1000 times as much bacteria and mold than the average school toilet seat.
Around 22 million school days are lost in the United States every year from kids catching colds and other illnesses at school. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Schools can do their part by trying to clean more thoroughly. That’s tough when budgets are tight, though. So kids can help by washing their hands regularly at school, especially before and after eating.