In fact research suggests that ball pits should be called germ pits. Let’s find out more about why …
Great balls of … bacteria
The study looked specifically at ball pits in children’s therapy centres – so in a healthcare setting where you’d expect that things would be pretty tidy. Fact is the findings were pretty grim.
“The study found considerable microbial colonization in ball pits that were tested, including eight bacteria and one yeast that could cause disease,” Science Daily reports.
Each individual ball was absolutely teeming with bacteria, the researchers found. Gulp.
“Bacterial colonization was found to be as high as thousands of cells per ball, clearly demonstrating an increased potential for transmission of these organisms to patients and an increased possibility of infection.”
For a child that’s already a bit peaky or has compromised immunity or even for a healthy kiddo, these pits are. Well. The pits.
A breeding ground for germs
It would be fair to say that ball pits in shopping centres and restaurants would have a similar issue to the therapy centre ones. In fact, it’s probable that they could even be worse.
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“The popularity of ball pits has increased in the general population since commercial restaurant chains installed them nationwide in the 1980s,” the study authors say.
“Ball pits are often contaminated with visible dirt, vomit, faeces, or urine providing an origin and permissive environmental factors for microbial contamination. Numerous types of bacteria have been identified in ball pits located in community settings.” Ugh.
Impossible to keep clean
The problem with ball pits is that they’re so blinking hard to keep clean – and that many don’t get cleaned very regularly at all.
The study confirmed that ball pits may “go days or even weeks between cleanings, allowing time for microorganisms to accumulate and grow to levels capable of giving children infections and making them sick.” Double ugh.
So if you’re tempted to throw your small child into a ball pit for a few minutes peace, know that zillions of germs are their playmates. You’re so welcome. #TripleUgh