Why you should always wash your hands after passing airport security

Alicia Farmer
September 9, 2018

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

Researchers from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare wrote in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases that live viruses - including rhinovirus and influenza - were found on 10 per cent of the surfaces tested at Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport, including payment terminals, staircase railings, passport-checking counters, and children's play areas.

In short: make sure you pack the hand sanitiser for your next airport adventure.

A 2015 study from Travelmath reported that the tray table was the No. 1 offender, with overhead air vents also among the most germ-filled surfaces.

Parents will also not be surprised that the only surface that returned viruses more often than the security bins was a plastic toy in the airport's playground.

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Those plastic trays at the security checkpoints inside airports harbor viruses that cause respiratory infections, a new study reveals. Other germ hot spots were shop payment terminals, staircase rails, passport checking counters, children's play areas and - unavoidably - in the air. The top virus found was rhinovirus, which gives people the common cold, followed by the influenza A virus. Viruses appeared in almost half of the plastic trays, the highest fraction of all the surfaces tested.

The lead authors of the article, who hailed from Finland's National Institute for Health and Welfare and the University of Nottingham, concluded that the screening trays "appear commonly contaminated", and that they are one of the surfaces at an airport where passengers are most likely to pick up harmful viruses.

"Of course, interacting with these surfaces, whether before you fly or on board, is no guarantee of picking up a virus", according to CNN.

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

No matter where you are, it's a good idea to wash your hands to reduce your chances of getting sick.

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