February 20, 2019

Airport Security Trays Carry More Germs Than Public Toilets

08 September 2018, 01:13 | Silvia Roy

Airport Security Trays Carry More Germs Than Public Toilets

The plastic trays that passengers put their hand luggage in at security checkpoints have the highest numbers of viruses of anywhere in an airport new research suggests

Turns out that the plastic trays used at airport security checkpoints harbour the highest levels of viruses at the airport.

On the contrary, the study says, of the 42 samples taken from toilet lids, flush buttons and door locks, there were zero samples where scientists detected the presence of a cold virus.

The security trays are handled by virtually everyone who makes their way through an airport - not to mention their belongings, so it's no surprise that they play host to the greatest number of viruses.

Among 10 samples with evidence of a respiratory virus, rhinovirus, coronavirus and adenovirus occurred in four, three and one surface samples respectively, whilst adenovirus and influenza A were both found in one of the four air samples taken at security.

The various surfaces were swabbed at Helsinki-Vantaa airport at peak-time as part of a scientific investigation carried out by experts from the University of Nottingham and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare during the winter of 2016.

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

"These boxes typically cycle with high frequency to subsequent passengers, and are typically seized with a wide palm surface area and strong grip".

Surprisingly, of all the samples tested, security trays were found to be harboring the highest potential risk of viral contamination.

According to the study, the trays are covered in pathogens that can cause everything from common cold to flu, pneumonia, bladder infection, SARS and even brain damage.

The study was carried out by the University of Nottingham and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare.

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Such trays are also rarely disinfected, with their hard surfaces allowing viruses to survive for up to a day.

'The new findings support preparedness planning for controlling the spread of serious infectious diseases in airports.

"Although this would not eliminate all viruses on hands, (e.g. alcohol gels have been found to be less effective than hand-washing for rhinovirus), it is effective for many viruses, including influenza", they added.

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

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