Travelling is one of the best things you can do. Apart from escaping the drudgery of work or school, which everyone looks forward to, science has shown that going on a trip can make you happier, healthier, less stressed, and more creative.
But the next time you’re at the airport and about to frantically empty your pockets at the security checkpoint, your stress levels might go right back up. The New York Times recently reported that the security trays where you dump your bags, loose change, and shoes in contains more bacteria than in a toilet.
In the study, published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases, researchers from the University of Nottingham in England and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare tested various areas in Helsinki Airport in Finland, and concluded that the germs were more prevalent in the trays than anywhere else. Among the germs were traces of rhinovirus, the source of the common cold, and of the influenza A virus.
While this sounds alarming at first, it should be noted that many other surfaces like our phones contain a higher concentration of bacteria than in toilets, so it’s not just the airport you should be worried about.
“At Finavia airports, the hygiene protocols are carried in accordance to health officials’ requirements — all surfaces are cleaned daily and all security check point trays, etc., are washed regularly,” stated Finavia, the company that runs Helsinki Airport.
The simple solution to making these areas cleaner for everyone is to wash your hands thoroughly and not cough and sneeze without covering your mouth.
“These simple precautions can help prevent pandemics and are most important in crowded areas like airports that have a high volume of people traveling to and from many different parts of the world,” said Jonathan Van-Tam, a professor of health protection at the University of Nottingham.
Looks like it’s time to stock up on hand sanitiser before your next flight out!
By Gilbert Wong, Men’s Health Content Producer