water fountain spout
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Public Drinking Fountains

Drinking fountains are bound to be germy, but school fountains are the biggest offenders, with anywhere from 62,000 to 2.7 million bacteria per square inch on the spigot, says Robert Donofrio, Ph.D., director of microbiology for NSF International. Other hot spots: cafeteria trays, sink handles, desk-tops, and computer keyboards. Yes, kids are germy creatures. And, thanks to their slapdash hygiene, 22 million school days are lost each year to colds alone.

Reduce the risk: Send your child to school with plenty of their own beverages. Teach them to wash their hands, especially before and after lunch, going to the bathroom, or using the computer. Send hand sanitizer to every school teacher and give extras to your child. And when it’s your turn to squeeze into that little desk for Open House? Swab it off with an antibacterial wipe, Gerba says. If schools did that every night, they’d reduce the child-absenteeism rate by half.

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