NSF Scrub Club

October 03, 2006

Greta Houlahan
NSF International
Phone: +1.734.913.5723

NSF Scrub Club® Germ Experiment Featured on Good Morning America
NSF International Continues Class Experiment to Determine Where Germs Hide
Good Morning America Story

ANN ARBOR, MI - "Good Morning America" teamed up with an NSF International microbiologist to find out where germs hide in schools as part of the ongoing NSF Scrub Club® handwashing public service campaign. After swabbing key surfaces in a Tennessee school, NSF found that water fountain spigots, water fountain handles and basketballs contained the most germs.

The Scrub Club® experiment findings were released to emphasize what educators and school cleaning crews need to look for when protecting kids from germs in schools. The TV segment also reinforced the importance of handwashing and the NSF Scrub Club® ( - a free public service Web site that offers a fun and educational way to teach children the importance of handwashing to rinse away germs.

During the October 3rd "Good Morning America" segment, NSF microbiologist Robert Donofrio, director of the NSF Microbiology Laboratory, followed a Lewisburg, Tennessee school student with a microbiology kit complete with swabbing materials. From the moment the child stepped on the school bus until the end of the school day, Donofrio collected samples from objects and surfaces that the child touched, including: basketballs, computer keyboards, bathroom toilet handles and bus seats. Each of these surface samples were tested and analyzed by NSF's laboratories to determine the number of bacteria and mold that existed.

"We found that objects such as water fountain spigots and basketballs had more microorganisms than the commonly cleaned areas such as bathrooms and gym mats. Though surprising, it's comforting to know that proper handwashing helps prevent the spread of germs and bacteria," Donofrio added.

Hallway water fountain spigot - 61,330 bacteria & mold (per in2)
Basketball - 8,126 bacteria & mold (per in2)
Water fountain handle - 5,689 bacteria & mold (per in2)
Music recorder - 204 bacteria & mold (per in2)
Keyboard - 257 bacteria & mold (per in2)
Gym mat - 131 bacteria & mold (per in2)
Toilet seat - 38 bacteria & mold (per in2)

Although all germs are not harmful, the existence of these germs indicates that there are favorable conditions for microorganisms to grow or survive, which could create an environment for disease-causing viruses and bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 164 million days of school are lost each year due to illness - up to half of which could be eliminated with proper handwashing.

William Fisher, vice president at NSF International says, "With the Scrub Club® not only do kids learn how to wash their hands, but they learn to do so in a fun way that will keep them washing the right way."

The Solution - The Scrub Club®
Developed by NSF International, The Scrub Club® ( is an interactive web site that teaches children the importance of handwashing to fight infectious and foodborne diseases.

Each of the Scrub Club kids represents one of the six steps in the handwashing process - "Hot Shot" and "Chill" combine to make the warm water essential for proper handwashing; "Squeaks" turns into various forms of soap; "Taki" becomes a clock that counts down the required 20 seconds for proper handwashing; "Scruff" reminds kids to clean around their nails; "Tank" turns into a sink to rinse away germs and "P.T." transforms into paper towels.

Through an animated "Webisode" children also follow the adventures of seven "soaper-heroes" and learn the six steps to proper handwashing. In addition to the Webisode, there are interactive games, activities to download, Spanish language materials and a curriculum guide for parents and teachers.

Related links: About NSF International:
NSF International, an independent, not-for-profit organization, helps protect you by certifying products and writing standards for food, water, air and consumer goods ( Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting public health and safety worldwide. NSF is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Food and Water Safety and Indoor Environment. Additional services include safety audits for the food and water industries, management systems registrations delivered through NSF International Strategic Registrations, Ltd., organic certification provided by Quality Assurance International and education through the NSF Center for Public Health Education.

Scrub Club® and Scrub Club characters are copyright 2007 NSF International.
"BAC" character copyright 2006 The Partnership for Food Safety Education.

Please distribute Scrub Club® materials freely in classrooms, publications, etc.,
provided that credit is given to NSF International.