The Nastiest Place For Germs At The Airport Isn’t The Bathroom, It’s Something We’re All Forced To Touch

man at airport

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I’m far from being considered a germophobe. I’ll keep a travel-size bottle of Purell in my car just in case but I can’t remember the last time I used it.

Apparently, the car is the wrong place to keep that Purell and I need to toss the tiny bottle in my carry-on because I just read through this study of where the most germs and viruses are found in the airport and it’s something each and every one of us comes in contact with, even those of us with TSA pre-check.

A team of scientists monitored the Helsinki-Vantaa airport in the Winter of 2016 and swabbed the entire airport checking for germs and viruses in an effort to track where the nastiest places in the airport were.

You’d think it was the toilet. Wrong. Or perhaps the seats near the gates where everyone waits before boarding. Wrong. Maybe the ticketing counter where everyone’s leaning up against it while dropping bags off? Still wrong.

Those plastic trays we all have to put our valuables in while going through airport security hold 10% of all germs and viruses found inside the entire airport, those same trays that we all have to put our hands on while going through security even if we don’t have carry-on luggage.

A new study from a team of experts from the UK’s University of Nottingham and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, published in the BMC Infectious Diseases journal, has revealed those airport security plastic trays are the biggest culprit for spreading germs in airports.

Germaphobes will be horrified to find out they found evidence of viruses on 10% of all the surfaces they tested. Other germ hotspots were shop payment terminals, staircase rails, passport checking counters, children’s play areas and — unavoidably — in the air.

There was evidence of rhinovirus — the cause of the common cold — plus some signs of influenza.
Surprisingly, their swabs didn’t detect respiratory viruses on the toilet surfaces.
“This study supports the case for improved public awareness of how viral infections spread,” said Professor of Health Protection, Jonathan Van Tram, from the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham, in a statement. (via CNN)

Going back to that talk of Purell, if you’re traveling in the Fall/Winter it’s not a terrible idea to have a tiny bottle in your carry-on bag just so you can clean up after going through security. That, or you just hit the bathroom and wash your hands.

And this might sound insane but throwing some wipes in your bag to disinfect your computer isn’t the worst idea. Just think about it for a second, 10% of all germs and viruses found in airports are found on those plastic trays that your computer goes through security on.

That’s the same computer that sits on your lap while you’re laying in bed, the computer you use for 14 hours a day.

You can check out the study in full published in the BMC Infectious Diseases journal by hitting that link if you want to learn more!