Playgrounds not only offer an opportunity for children to burn off some energy after dinner but also provide a breeding ground for germs, some benign, others dangerous.
Dr. Erin M. Carr-Jordan, a child development professor and a mother of four from Chandler, Arizona, recently visited dozens of fast food playgrounds in eleven states. She collected samples from inside those playgrounds to test for cleanliness. The results were shocking.
Lab results on the samples collected from the fast food playgrounds discovered a widespread presence of an array of pathogens from coliform bacteria to staphylococcus. Some of the germs were benign; others were more dangerous. In either case, the uncleanliness of the playgrounds suggests that fast food restaurants are not doing enough to ensure that their playgrounds are cleaned regularly.
Dr. Carr-Jordan began her crusade after entering a Playland at a McDonald’s upon the urging of her children. She was appalled to find that the equipment was “gross and sticky.” As she recalls, “There were curse words and gang graffiti. The windows were black. There was matted hair and an abandoned Band-Aid.” When she approached the manager about cleaning up the playground, her complaints were ignored.
Fast food restaurants claim to have policies, which include stringent sanitizing procedures, in place to ensure the cleanliness of their playgrounds. However, of the approximately fifty playgrounds that Dr. Carr-Jordan has so far tested, only one came back as essentially free of pathogens.
In an effort to see changes made, Dr. Carr-Jordan has started a nonprofit group called Kids Play Safe. Unfortunately, her efforts to garner support from local health departments to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have failed to cause any change. Currently, there are no regulations for the cleanliness and safety of fast food playgrounds.
Kids play safe: http://www.kidsplaysafe.net/
A mother’s war on germs at fast-food playlands: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/18/us/a-mothers-war-on-germs-at-fast-food-playgrounds.html?_r=1&ref=parenting
McDonald’s Playland: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:McDonald%27s_with_Prominent_Playland.JPG