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High levels of bacteria found on children’s toys and hands

Posted on: Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

The amount of bacteria on children's hands is at dangerously high levels, according to new findings.

Research published by Initial Washroom Hygiene revealed that an average of 2,017 units of bacteria were found on the swabs taken from the children they monitored.

This could potentially be putting many children in danger and be the cause behind many diseases and illnesses.

For this study, any reading above 2,000 units is considered high.

As part of the research, 50 school children had their hands swabbed for microorganisms using sterile surface swabs. These were then analysed by an ATP bioluminescence reader.

According to the findings, the highest levels of bacteria was recorded as 6,358 units, more than five times the normal level of bacteria found on hands.

Commenting on the research, Dr Peter Barratt from Initial Washroom Hygiene said: "It’s important that we teach children about correct handwashing practices, as they’ll carry this information with them for the rest of their lives. 

"Sporadic and sometimes ineffective hand washing by children, combined with the sharing of classroom items such as pencils and toys means that bacteria and other microorganisms can be spread more easily between children at school."

Objects such as pencils, that are commonly used by children were also tested and they were also found to have high levels of bacteria.

Representatives from Initial Washroom Hygiene found that one pencil had a reading of 1,663 units, and a wooden toy had a result of 2,002.

Although these readings were lower than the levels of bacteria found on hands, the study also highlighted that a reading of over 500 units on an object indicates high levels of contamination.

This becomes all the more worrying when one considers that children will often put these objects in their mouths, and chew them, which means that germs spread much faster.

However, the single biggest hoarder of germs for an object turned out to be the Xbox, which recorded a reading of 5,236 units.

Mr Barratt added: "We should all remember that young children tend to be more at risk from illness than adults, and hands provide a perfect environment for a wide range of bacteria and viruses, including E. coli, cold virus, influenza, Streptococcus and Norovirus. 

"Washing your hands thoroughly for 20-30 seconds remains the simplest and most effective way to reduce the spread of infection, and schools need to take the lead to ensure all their students wash their hands thoroughly after every washroom visit."

The study found that the simple act of teaching children to wash their hands more thoroughly can help to significantly reduce the spread of germs.

Of course, ensuring that the school environment is cleaned regularly and maintained to high standards will also help to further reduce the transmission of germs.