Bacteria in sandboxes pose health risk to children, experts say

Hand-washing recommended after using sandbox
Bacteria in sandboxes pose health risk to children, experts say

A sandbox is synonymous with children’s playtime, but a new study shows that joining the children and sand in that box may be harmful bacteria.

The study conducted in Spain shows that sandboxes are a breeding ground for bacteria and parasites brought in by pets and wild animals using the space as a litter box. It can also be brought in by children who are not potty trained.

The researchers found that bacteria, called Clostridium difficile (C.difficille) was present in nearly 53 percent of sandboxes in Spain.

C. difficille can cause symptoms in humans that range from diarrhea to a life-threatening inflammation of the colon.

“Some of those really bad bacteria have special covers where they can survive for weeks to months in the sandbox and still be dangerous,” said Dr. David Shearer, a family physician with SSM Health.

Shearer said the potential of bacteria in a sandbox is not a reason to avoid outdoor play. He points out, that for children with healthy immune systems exposure to common germs can lower the risk of things like asthma.

He said parents simply need to be aware of the potential problems associated with a sandbox and take appropriate precautions.

“I think if you just take the simple precautions of hand-washing and hand sterilization after using the sandbox, I really wouldn’t worry about playing in a sandbox at all,” Shearer said.