Drink From a Water Fountain? Reasons Why You Shouldn’t

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Bird Bath by Cory Schloss

Bird Bath by Cory Schloss Copyright 2013 @OneandonlyCory

I’m not a germaphobe, never have been, never will be, but you will NEVER see me drinking from a water fountain. ( I would have to be very desperate)  Even before I read the multiple studies that show that water fountains have more bacteria than toilet seats and supermarket floors, I shied away from them.  Why? The proof is in the pictures!  I have witnessed pretty much all of these and more.

Bird Bath   This photo taken by a friend @Oneandonlycory is beautiful. The birds are enjoying a nice bath in a central park water fountain. If I were sitting in the park I would be entertained and could watch the birds play for hours.  Be sure to follow Cory on twitter @Oneandonlycory for more beautiful shots of NYC.

Bird Bath by Cory Schloss

Bird Bath by Cory Schloss Copyright @OneandonlyCory

Squirrels: These little furry creatures also enjoy the occasional drink from the same fountains that you may frequent.  Just think of where those little feet and bushy tail have been.  Yuck!

squirrels drinking from water fountain

Source: Pictured Left: The Chronicle by Lance Iversen Right: Clare Darnell

Dogs – Man’s Best Friend  I am a dog lover, of all shapes, sizes and breeds.  I get that sometimes it is hot and they need water, but please fill a bowl/cup or “make” a cup from your hands.  The positive?  At least they are not licking the spout!

Sheep:  YES I said… SHEEP  Ok I get the birds and the squirrels – they have free run of the place, but SHEEP? BAAA I don’t think so

Pigs:  Now that we have covered birds, squirrels, sheep and dogs let’s talk about pigs – and I am not talking about the likes of Porky pig, Miss Piggy, Wilbur or Piglet variety of pigs.  It is the human kind.  Yes some of us are filthy – dirtier than those cute little swine.  Check out how some of us (know anyone?) “use” water fountains:

Trash Can:  Why people think that a water fountain is a good alternative to a trash can I will never understand.  I have seen all sorts of garbage placed in them. I will spare you the details of what I have seen – but you can imagine.

Gum: Yes I am sure you remember the “prank”  where you stick the gum on the spout so that the next person gets splattered in the face with the water – and sometimes gum. Not funny and just gross.

Just plain Dirty: There is no trash in this water fountain, but it is obviously not cleaned very well.  I have seen plenty of these in schools.   You wouldn’t drink from a dirty class would you?

Hand washing: Seriously?  Yes this happens! I have seen this a few times. People actually wash their hands in the water fountain and then unsuspecting people come by next and drink from it.

GERMS.  GERMS… GERMS – a WHOLE LOT OF GERMS:  Remember those studies I mentioned earlier?   Well here are just a few:

  • A 1993 study published in Pediatrics found traces of rotavirus (a leading cause of diarrhea) in the fountains at daycare centers.
  • A 2005 study by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) found 2.7 million bacterial cells per square inch, which was thousands higher than any other area in the school they tested including the toilet which came in eighth in their list.
  • In another study by the NSF in conjunction with Real Simple magazine in 2008 they tested the bacteria levels of different surfaces with which the public comes into contact with such as door handles, water fountains, supermarket floors and park sandboxes.  Guess what came up as the germiest? Yes.. the water fountain with 62,000 colony-forming units (CFUs) of bacteria per square inch!   The sandbox at a park had only 7,440 CFUs!

Still Want to Drink From One? If you MUST: let the water run for a few seconds before drinking, and try to wash your hands before and after touching any fountains. NOT IN THEM!!

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