November 17, 2018

New Germ Study Prompts Airport Bin Warning Ads

09 September 2018, 02:31 | Silvia Roy

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

Researchers from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare wrote in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases that live viruses - including rhinovirus and influenza - were found on 10 per cent of the surfaces tested at Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport, including payment terminals, staircase railings, passport-checking counters, and children's play areas.

A scientific study of Helsinki airport in Finland reveals that security bins were the riskiest source of respiratory germs. The study also notes that because the plastic trays are non-porous, virus survival is prolonged.

Germaphobes will be horrified to find out they found evidence of viruses on 10 percent of all the surfaces they tested.

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The researchers revealed that influenza A and B viruses, respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, rhinovirus, and coronaviruses were found from the swabs. Other germ hot spots were shop payment terminals, staircase rails, passport checking counters, children's play areas and - unavoidably - in the air.

A 2015 study from Travelmath reported that the tray table was the No. 1 offender, with overhead air vents also among the most germ-filled surfaces.

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Security screening trays appear to pose the highest potential risk, according to the study, which is worrying given they are used by virtually all embarking passengers.

"The new findings support preparedness planning for controlling the spread of serious infectious diseases in airports". The study attempted to map the location of germs in the average airport, and the biggest virus hotspot isn't what you're thinking. Niina Ikonen, a virology expert with the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, said, "The presence of microbes in the environment of an airport has not been investigated previously".

Viral contamination of standard passenger pathways and procedures in an airport - such as security screening trays - "have the potential to be especially problematic if a severe pathogen with an indirect transmission mechanism were to pose a threat for global spread", the researchers note.

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