Airport Bins Have More Germs Than Your Toilet Seat


There is another news to threaten people who are going to airports, your security bins. A study found that airport security bins contain more cold and flu-causing germs than an average toilet seat. Researchers from the University of Nottingham collaborated with the Finnish National Institute of Health and Welfare on the study. The team collected samples from frequently used surfaces on different places at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport in Finland.

The investigation involved swabbing plastic bins at the Helsinki Airport during the winter of 2015-2016, which was the peak flu season. Four out of eight samples contained the rhinovirus or adenovirus which is responsible for causing colds or flu-like symptoms. Looking at the traffic of the foot traffic that goes through the traffic each day, the study itself might not be that shocking. In the US, nearly 1.73 million passengers fly each day.

Professor of Health Protection Jonathan Van Tam led the researchers from the University of Nottingham’s School of Medicine. He said, “This study supports the case for improved public awareness of how viral infections spread.” However, the researchers assured that the basic sanitary precautions could help to reduce the risk of catching a cold or flu after dealing with airport security bins. Van Tam said in a statement, “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. 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.”

The researchers said in their study that airports could serve as a risk zone for an ’emerging pandemic threat.’ The threat can be higher in countries where passengers are forced to empty their snack and foodstuff into a plastic bin while going through security. 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 new findings support preparedness planning for controlling the spread of serious infectious diseases in airports. The results also provide new ideas for technical improvements in airport design and refurbishment.”

The researchers concluded that airports could take various steps to reduce the chances of illnesses. They can offer hand sanitizer to travelers before boarding the plane as well as after the security checkpoint. Airport security teams should also be more diligent about disinfecting the bins.