And finding out about the dirtiest part of the airport might actually shock you...
5 November 2018| Last updated on 6 November 2018
It turns out airport security trays are really gross.
Hundreds of thousands of people travel through major airports each day so you might suspect keeping them spotless and virus-free is an impossible task – but the worst-offending part of the airport for germs might still surprise you.
It’s not the toilets or even the floor of the waiting areas everyone trudges through, but the plastic trays you put your belongings into for scanning at security, according to a study published in the BioMed Central Infectious Diseases journal.
It makes sense when so many people put their shoes and bags they’ve dragged along the floor in there, but that doesn’t make it any more pleasant.
The study, which looked at the threat of respiratory infections in passenger environments, found that “international and national travelling has made the rapid spread of infectious diseases possible”.
Half of the hand-carried luggage trays tested at the security check areas were found to have at least one respiratory virus detected.
The passenger side of the divider glass at passport control points was found to be pretty bad germ-wise too.
The most common viruses detected at airports in the study were:
- rhinovirus (usually the cause of colds),
- coronavirus (which can affect your sinuses and throat),
- adenovirus (which accounts for some fever-related illnesses)
- influenza (aka the flu).
Unsurprisingly, multiple contaminated places had “high touch rates”.
Four out of the eight trays regularly contained traces of respiratory viruses like adenovirus and rhinovirus.
Security check trays appear to pose the highest potential risk and are used by virtually all embarking passengers.
There’s certainly no avoiding airport security trays if you plan to travel ever again, so your best bet for avoiding these almost inevitable germs is to wash your hands before and afterwards.