Airport security screening trays have more germs than a toilet

Airport security trays are rarely disinfected and pass through several hundred hands each day

Airport security trays are rarely disinfected and pass through several hundred hands each day

A new study finds airport security bins are a hotbed for germs that can cause illnesses in humans, such as the flu and the common cold.

Areas of the Helsinki-Vantaa airport - which saw nearly 19 million passengers in 2017 - were tested for viral contamination, with 90 surface samples and four air samples collected over a three-week period in 2016.

Trays have a tendency to collect germs - whether in the airport or on the plane.

You probably wash your hands after using the airport bathroom-but what about after going through the security line? Other virus hot spots included the payment terminals at airport shops, staircase railings, passport check counters, children's play areas, and, you know, just floating around in the air waiting to ruin your vacation.

But the most popular hotspot for infections like rhinovirus (the common cold) and influenza was the plastic security bins where passengers dumped their shoes, phones, and carry-on bags.

The study could also help educate people on how the infections we try to avoid each winter spread, Jonathan Van-Tam, a professor of health protection at the University of Nottingham, said in an emailed statement today. This is because of the frequent cleaning.

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Researchers hope the study spreads more public awareness on how viruses spread, particularly at a crowded location such as an airport.

It's also hoped the new study's shocking results will lead to changes in "technical improvements in airport design and refurbishment".

"To our knowledge, security trays are not routinely disinfected".

Although the test cannot show that the viruses were alive and could cause disease, previous experimental research has proven that many microbes survive on various surface materials up to several days.

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

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