Airport Security Bins Pose Cold, Flu Risk

Passenger trays provided at security screening points are home to 1000 times more bacteria than an airport toilet. Source 7 NewsMore

Passenger trays provided at security screening points are home to 1000 times more bacteria than an airport toilet. Source 7 NewsMore

The investigation involved swabbing plastic bins at the Helsinki Airport during the winter of 2015-2016, which was the peak flu season.

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

Some surfaces that you might expect to harbor a ton of germs were actually clean, such as upper surface the toilet bowl lid and button for flushing.

And when the scientists repeatedly swabbed a plastic toy dog in the airport's children's playground, they found that the toy played host to cold-causing viruses a whopping 67 percent of the time. One sample (of 7) from stair handrails was positive for coronavirus OC43. Turns out that the plastic trays used at airport security checkpoints harbour the highest levels of viruses at the airport.

Most alarmingly, the hand-carried luggage trays at the security check area, which everyone uses, are the most likely to carry harmful viruses.

"The new findings support preparedness planning for controlling the spread of serious infectious diseases in airports", she said in a statement posted by at Nottingham University, that partnered the research.

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"The presence of microbes in the environment of an airport has not been investigated previously", said virology expert Niina Ikonen from the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, The Guardian reported.

A United Airlines flight attendant drops her shoes into a plastic tray as she prepares to pass through a security checkpoint in the United Airlines terminal at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois on May 11, 2005.

In short: make sure you pack the hand sanitiser for your next airport adventure.

The cause of a common cold and signs of influenza were also present during their tests.

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

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

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