Airport trays contain more germs than toilet seats: Study

While several surfaces tested positive for respiratory viruses, researchers found that trays at security checkpoints were the worst. Half the trays possessed germs, including influenza A and rhinovirus, which causes cold and influenza.

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi | Published: September 11, 2018 1:16:47 pm

University of Nottingham in England, Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, BMC Infectious Diseases, airport trays, security check in airport, germs, sanitiser, disinfect trays, indian express, indian express news Study says airport trays have more germs than toilet seats. Source: WikimediaCommons/Ralf Roletschek)

The next time you go through airport security check, be sure to sanitize whatever part of your body touches the security tray. According to research, airport trays may be hosting a bastion of germs – even more than what’s in your toilet seat.

Researchers from the University of Nottingham in England and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare conducted a study to investigate “the presence of respiratory viruses in the passenger environment of a major airport in order to identify risk points and guide measures to minimize transmission.” The process entailed the researchers to take samples from the air and frequently-touched surfaces weekly at three different times at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport in Finland during the peak of influenza season from 2015 to 2016. Helsinki-Vantaa is the main airport in the country and had nearly 19 million customers pass through its doors in 2017.

The study, which was published in BMC Infectious Diseases, also observed that other surfaces in the airport showed at least one respiratory virus sitting on it.

Surfaces that went through the test included toilet seats, toilet buttons, luggage trolleys, escalator handrails, stair handrails, and many others.

While several surfaces tested positive for respiratory viruses, researchers found that trays at security checkpoints were the worst. Half the trays possessed germs, including influenza A and rhinovirus, which causes cold and influenza. The next time you get the flu after a flight, you know the trays are to be blamed.

“We found the highest frequency of respiratory viruses on plastic trays used in security check areas for depositing hand-carried luggage and personal items,” stated the scientists. “These boxes typically cycle with high frequency to subsequent passengers, and are typically seized with a wide palm surface area and strong grip.”

How do we get around without catching the flu? The obvious solution seems to be a sanitizer.

“Security trays are highly likely to be handled by all embarking passengers at airports; nevertheless the risk of this procedure could be reduced by offering hand sanitization with alcohol hand rub before and after security screening and increasing the frequency of tray disinfection,” wrote the scientists. “To our knowledge, security trays are not routinely disinfected.”

Well, the next time you travel, keep a sanitizer and give your hand a good disinfecting rub right after a security check-in.

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