New Germ Study Prompts Airport Bin Warning Ads

Leslie Hanson
September 9, 2018

The research team monitored germ levels across a variety of surfaces inside the airport during the winter of 2016.

According to the paper, the boxes are extra germy because they're touched by nearly everyone at the airport - and unlike the toilets, they're rarely cleaned.

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. "Interestingly, no respiratory viruses were found on toilet surfaces". One sample (of 7) from stair handrails was positive for coronavirus OC43.

And if you think avoiding the bathrooms until you leave the airport will save you, you're wrong.

This is according to a new paper in BMC Infectious Diseases, which found 10 respiratory viruses - including the common cold and flu - lurking on various surfaces at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport in Finland. Other germ hot spots were shop payment terminals, staircase rails, passport checking counters, children's play areas and - unavoidably - in the air.

The solution is no surprise, they write: "Many cleaning agents, household (antibacterial) wipes and anti-viral tissues are able to rapidly render influenza virus nonviable, offering multiple simple possibilities and opportunities for reducing the risk of indirect contact transmission".


"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.

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 worldwide spread", the researchers note.

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

"This study supports the case for improved public awareness of how viral infections spread".

Do you always get sick when you fly?

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

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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