Airport Bins Have More Germs Than Your Toilet Seat

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The investigation involved swabbing plastic bins at the Helsinki Airport during the winter of 2015-2016, which was the peak flu season.

A new study say the bins at security check points - the same ones you throw your phone and auto keys on, that everyone has to handle - are the dirtiest part of the airport.

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.

Surprisingly, the swabs didn't detect respiratory viruses on the toilet surfaces. A study has revealed a dirty truth: airports are teeming with viruses that cause respiratory diseases. Turns out that the plastic trays used at airport security checkpoints harbour the highest levels of viruses at the airport.

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Four of eight samples collected from security screening trays tested positive for respiratory viruses such as deno, influenza A, rhino and human corona OC43.

These included a plastic toy in the children's playground, hand-carried luggage trays at the security screening area, the buttons of the payment terminal at the pharmacy, the handrails of stairs, and the passenger side of the desk and divider glass at the passport control points. Niina Ikonen, a virology expert with the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, said, "The presence of microbes in the environment of an airport has not been investigated previously".

The researchers suggest that airports could offer hand sanitizer and frequently disinfect the trays to stop the spread of germs. "People can help to minimize contagion by hygienic hand washing and coughing into a handkerchief, tissue or sleeve at all times, but especially in public places".

"This study supports the case for improved public awareness of how viral infections spread", said Jonathan Van Tram, a professor of health protection from the school of medicine at the University of Nottingham in a statement. Rhinovirus, which causes the common cold, is most common in airport surfaces. "The results also provide new ideas for technical improvements in airport design and refurbishment".

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