Sampling of elementary school playground equipment for total coliforms and E. coli
Background and Purpose: Outbreaks of enteric diseases in schools and daycares are common. It is possible that these outbreaks could be propagated via fomites in school settings, such as playground equipment that is not regularly cleaned. Studies thus far have provided conflicting results on the level of contamination present on fomites in the school setting. This project is intended to assess the level of microbial contamination present on elementary school playground surfaces as a result of hand contact from school children. Methods: Two categories of elementary school playground equipment were sampled in this study; those that are likely to see regular hand contact from children and those that were not likely see hand regular hand contact from children. 30 surfaces of each category were swabbed and the media will be plated and incubated to enumerate total coliforms and E. coli. Results: The mean number of total coliforms on high hand contact surfaces was 0.2333 cfu/100cm2, while the mean number of total coliforms on low hand contact surfaces was 0.2667 cfu/100cm2. The t-test analysis of total coliform results produced a p-value of 0.5566. The mean number of E. coli on high hand contact surfaces was 1.1333 cfu/100cm2, while the mean number of E. coli on low hand contact surfaces was 4.9000 cfu/100cm2. The t-test analysis of E. coli results produced a p-value of 0.8019. Discussion: Neither results for total coliforms or E. coli indicated significantly different numbers on high or low hand contact surfaces. This indicates that these total coliform and E. coli may not be present as a result of hand contact. Conclusion: These results do not support the deposition of coliforms or E. coli on playground equipment as a result of hand contact. However, there is still concern due to the number of samples positive for E. coli. These results suggest the need for practices such as regular hand washing in the school setting after using the playground, regular cleaning of playground materials and EHO inspections of school grounds.