Study finds airport security trays contains more viruses than toilets

Leslie Hanson
September 8, 2018

There's one place to avoid at the airport if you want to keep yourself from getting sick: the plastic trays at security that items are piled into before being scanned.

Next time you fly, approach airport security plastic security tubs cautiously, with a recent study showing these trays boast the highest levels of respiratory viruses at an global airport.

Toilets, on the other hand, were completely free of respiratory viruses in the 28 samples taken, as were the buttons of an elevator, the trolley handles for luggage and the touch-screen on the check-in machine.

The results were published last week in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases.

Four of 8 samples contained the rhinovirus or adenovirus, which both cause cold-like symptoms.

As reported by CBS News, the study, conducted by the researchers from the University of Nottingham and Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare collected samples from a variety of surfaces at Finland's Helsinki Vantaa airport during the peak period of seasonal influenza in 2015-16.


Pandemic experts found evidence of viruses on 10 per cent of airport surfaces tested - which also included shop payment terminals, staircase rails, passport checking counters and children's play areas.

The authors suggest adding more hand-sanitizing stations at areas where people are repeatedly touching surfaces and germ concentration is likely to be highest and "enhancing cleaning of frequently touched surfaces".

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

It concluded: "Security check trays appear to pose the highest potential risk and are used by virtually all embarking passengers". The researchers encouraged people to minimize the spread of viruses by hand-washing and coughing into their sleeves.

Researchers said that worldwide and national travelling has made the rapid spread of infectious diseases possible but little information is available on the role of major traffic hubs, such as airports, in the transmission of respiratory infections, including seasonal influenza and a pandemic threat.

"This study supports the case for improved public awareness of how viral infections spread", said Jonathan Van Tam, professor of health protection at Nottingham University's School of Medicine.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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