Airport security trays are even nastier than toilets

Airport security trays are even nastier than toilets

But plastic bins aren't the only place in airports where researchers found frequent presence of cold-causing viruses.

As CNN reported, the team said airports could offer "hand sanitization opportunities where intense, repeat touching of surfaces takes place such as immediately before and after security screening".

Surprisingly, samples from the public toilets all returned a negative reading for any of the tested respiratory viruses.

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. The study also notes that because the plastic trays are non-porous, virus survival is prolonged. One sample (of 7) from stair handrails was positive for coronavirus OC43. Other germ hot spots were shop payment terminals, staircase rails, passport checking counters, children's play areas and - unavoidably - in the air.

"They found evidence of viruses on 10 percent of the surfaces tested and most commonly on the plastic trays that are circulated along the passenger queue at the hand luggage X-ray checkpoint". However, the researchers assured that the basic sanitary precautions could help to reduce the risk of catching a cold or flu after dealing with airport security bins.

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His team partner, virology expert Niina Ikonen from the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, added: "The results also provide new ideas for technical improvements in airport design and refurbishment".

Airports are of particular interest to those studying how pandemics spread, because they are crowded areas where diseases can potentially be passed to and from carriers who travel thousands of miles.

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

They suggest the risk could be reduced by offering hand sanitisation with alcohol hand rub to passengers before and after screening, and by increasing the frequency of tray disinfection.

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