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Germs, Gunk, Goo: Indoor Playground Health Hazards

Germs, Gunk, Goo: Indoor Playground Health Hazards
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An Arizona mother of four, Erin M. Carr-Jordan, has started a nonprofit group called Kids Play Safe whose mission is to call for stricter legislative regulations for indoor play areas including McDonald’s PlayPlaces and the tube-slide, hanging-net-bridge play stuctures at Chuck E. Cheese. Carr-Jordan, a developmental psychology professor, has actually visited dozens of indoor playgrounds in 11 different states, taken samples and sent them to labs for microbial testing. Her findings? As the New York Times says:

…the widespread presence of an array of pathogens, from coliform bacteria to staphylococcus, at levels that experts said indicated that restaurants might not be disinfecting their playlands as diligently as they should.

One expert interviewed by the New York Times, Philip M. Tierno Jr., director of clinical microbiology and immunology at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, said that he was not “shocked or blown out of the water” by what Carr-Jordan found. While noting that it is his business to study microbes, Tierno said that “There are very high counts, and that means these places are not cleaned properly or not cleaned at all.”

On hearing of Carr-Jordan’s concerns, McDonalds says that it has “stringent sanitizing procedures but had nonetheless assigned a team to review those procedures.”

Carr-Jordan started her Kids Play Safe campaign in April after she went into a Phoenix-area PlayPlace with her kids.

What she saw was alarming.

“My kids were going, ‘Yuck!’ ” she recalled of the scene, which she videotaped with her cellphone and posted on YouTube. “It was gross and sticky. There were curse words and gang graffiti. The windows were black. There was matted hair and an abandoned Band-Aid.”

Despite complaints to the manager and several follow-up visits, the play area was not cleaned, she said.

I can attest to what Carr-Jordan found. Back in the days when my 14-year-old son Charlie wasn’t 5′ 10″, we used to visit McDonalds PlayPlaces regularly as they offered a chance (especially when it was winter or the height of summer) for him to interact with other children.

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115 comments

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11:40PM PST on Dec 22, 2013

Thanks for sharing out such a great informative content are extremely fastidious.

hills side slide

5:28AM PDT on Oct 4, 2011

Nasty & gross to contemplate. Not sure more legislation would take care of the problem though. One would think that the sanitation of this play equipment would be included in already existing legislation related to state public health licensing & regulation for restaurants; but maybe not. IDK............

7:32PM PDT on Oct 3, 2011

Thanks for posting.

1:36AM PDT on Oct 3, 2011

you never know what little germ are in the playground

3:53AM PDT on Oct 1, 2011

Thanks for the info.

1:14PM PDT on Sep 30, 2011

Huh..finding a way to adequately sanitize and clean indoor playgrounds can be tough, but this is alarming.

1:14AM PDT on Sep 29, 2011

Ew!!! I'm no germ-a-phobe, I definitely believe that we need contact with germs to build strong healthy bodies, but that is gross! I haven't personally climbed inside any of the playgrounds in restaurants (I'm a tiny bit claustraphobic) but I did assume there was some kind of regular cleaning going on.

8:19PM PDT on Sep 25, 2011

These play yards need to be regulated and kept clean. I always thought the board of health did check them when they made their inspections. In PA I know they do as I was at a McDonalds once (yes, I eat there occassionaly)) when an inspector was there going over the play yard for safety. He checked how clean it was, too. They are not going to be totally sanatized, kids play there. That's ok. We need some germs to build ammunity and the kids will be fine with that.

1:46PM PDT on Sep 25, 2011

Thanks

9:16AM PDT on Sep 25, 2011

Found a used hypodermic needle on the playground when my daughter was small...Outdoors and air is great, just keep an eye out!

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Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
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