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Airport security trays carry more germs than toilets, study reveals

What's the most germ-filled spot in an airport? The bathrooms? Those crowded waiting areas? The passport che...

Posted: Sep 7, 2018 4:55 AM
Updated: Sep 7, 2018 4:55 AM

What's the most germ-filled spot in an airport? The bathrooms? Those crowded waiting areas? The passport checking counter?

Surprisingly, none of the above.

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Travel safety and security

A new study from a team of experts from the UK's University of Nottingham and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, published in the BMC Infectious Diseases journal, has revealed those airport security plastic trays are the biggest culprit for spreading germs in airports.

So next time you're dumping your phone, passport and laptop into the tray -- it might be worth having the hand sanitizer handy.

Revealing study

The team monitored germ levels on a variety of surfaces at Helsinki-Vantaa airport in Finland during the winter of 2016.

Germaphobes who travel will be horrified to find out they found evidence of viruses on 10% of all the surfaces they tested. Other germ hotspots were shop payment terminals, staircase rails, passport checking counters, children's play areas and -- unavoidably -- in the air.

There was evidence of rhinovirus -- the cause of the common cold -- plus some signs of influenza.

Surprisingly, their swabs didn't detect respiratory viruses on the toilet surfaces.

"This study supports the case for improved public awareness of how viral infections spread," said Professor of Health Protection, Jonathan Van Tram, from the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham, in a statement.

"People can help to minimize contagion by hygienic hand washing and coughing into a handkerchief, tissue or sleeve at all times but especially in public places."

His team-partner, virology expert Niina Ikonen from the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, added: "The results also provide new ideas for technical improvements in airport design and refurbishment."

At the end of the study, the team suggest that airports could provide "hand sanitization opportunities where intense, repeat touching of surfaces takes place such as immediately before and after security screening."

It's also suggested that the trays -- and other frequently touched surfaces -- could be cleaned more regularly.

The study pointed out that handling the plastic security trays is almost inevitable for travelers -- unlike using airport store payment points, for example.

On board

Even if you avoid airport germs, previous studies have shown airplanes are equally as dirty.

A 2015 study from Travelmath reported that the tray table was the number one offender, with overhead air vents also among the most germ-filled surfaces.

Of course, interacting with these surfaces, whether before you fly or on board, is no guarantee of picking up a virus.

Your best bet? Wash your hands as much as possible and keep the trusty hand sanitizer on standby.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 261167

Reported Deaths: 5713
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17561191
Hinds16687329
Harrison14050202
Rankin11102217
Jackson10729188
Lee9014143
Madison8495168
Jones6607114
Forrest6135122
Lauderdale6067192
Lowndes5490120
Lafayette511794
Lamar499865
Washington4904125
Bolivar4087109
Oktibbeha403581
Panola380981
Pontotoc374757
Monroe3651106
Warren3649103
Union353263
Marshall352069
Neshoba3464154
Pearl River3422105
Leflore3090109
Lincoln304287
Sunflower290373
Hancock288461
Tate279062
Alcorn270754
Pike268180
Itawamba266662
Scott256048
Yazoo253756
Prentiss251153
Copiah247649
Tippah247550
Coahoma245954
Simpson241471
Leake236167
Grenada222471
Marion220273
Covington219072
Adams212370
Wayne208432
Winston205870
George203539
Newton197346
Attala196461
Tishomingo193861
Chickasaw188444
Jasper177838
Holmes171368
Clay164237
Tallahatchie155635
Stone149525
Clarke144762
Calhoun139922
Smith127725
Yalobusha121134
Walthall114037
Greene112929
Noxubee112225
Montgomery111236
Carroll106422
Lawrence105617
Perry104031
Amite100826
Webster95424
Tunica88221
Claiborne87825
Jefferson Davis87727
Benton84823
Humphreys84224
Kemper80020
Quitman7049
Franklin69617
Choctaw62513
Wilkinson59625
Jefferson56520
Sharkey44817
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 436087

Reported Deaths: 6486
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63969994
Mobile31211565
Madison27851208
Tuscaloosa21233271
Montgomery19698326
Shelby19093130
Baldwin16981188
Lee13036105
Morgan12526134
Etowah11987179
Calhoun11441206
Marshall10357123
Houston8886158
Limestone827876
Cullman8203108
Elmore8120104
DeKalb7828103
Lauderdale7798103
St. Clair7763125
Talladega6394111
Walker6002177
Jackson594644
Colbert545276
Blount543986
Autauga532761
Coffee456762
Dale406883
Franklin372448
Russell349212
Chilton342873
Covington336068
Escambia330144
Dallas312096
Tallapoosa3120107
Chambers301170
Clarke293336
Pike261131
Marion251558
Lawrence250752
Winston232742
Bibb221248
Geneva208746
Marengo206529
Pickens199031
Hale182742
Barbour179337
Fayette177029
Butler172459
Cherokee164330
Henry158224
Monroe151320
Randolph144336
Washington140127
Clay129146
Crenshaw122944
Macon120937
Cleburne120724
Lamar119721
Lowndes113736
Wilcox106622
Bullock102228
Perry99118
Conecuh96821
Sumter90026
Greene76823
Coosa63215
Choctaw51724
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