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Science With Sabrina: How Germs Spread

Winter months usually mean more people are getting sick.

Winter months usually mean more people are getting sick. We know germs spread quickly. In a simple experiment, we can see how germs move around using a harmless lotion visible only under a black light. Meteorologist Sabrina Bates explains in this week’s Science With Sabrina.

Sneezing and coughing are two of the most disgusting things that happen during cold and flu season. By not covering your mouth or nose, thousands of germs are released around you and onto your hands. It's one thing if you wash them properly, but, if not, that bacteria spreads and it spreads fast. Nearly 80 percent of illness-related germs come from your hands.


We're going to simulate how germs spread from person to person in an everyday work environment. I'm using these two objects: Glo Germ and an ultraviolet light. This is a lotion that simulates germs. It's non-toxic and glows under the uv light.

This process is going to show us how germs spread around so quickly. Remember, the lotion we're using isn't actual germs.

STEPS: First we apply the harmless Glo Germ lotion onto our hands. Obviously, can't see germs with our own eyes. So, that's why we're using this lotion. It's only visible under the black light.

I tested how germs spread around by having multiple people in our newsroom use the lotion.

Think of this way. If one of them were to sneeze or cough in their hands (and continue working without disinfecting them), the germs would begin to transfer to other objects. After just about 15 minutes, I checked each person's desk.

Under the black light, you can see the Glo Germ spread to cups, computers, and headphones. Wherever you see a white mark, that's where the germs would end up. If someone else came in and picked up the same controller or touched the same desk, the germs would hop over to their hands.


To prevent germs from spreading, it's important to thoroughly clean our hands. After washing our hands quickly, traces of Glo Germ can still be found.

Glo Germ and the black light are a great way for parents and teachers to show young kids why they need to wash their hands the right way.

Segment Sponsored By: Sylvan Learning