Airport security trays carry more diseases than toilets

The plastic trays that passengers put their hand luggage in at security checkpoints have the highest numbers of viruses of anywhere in an airport new research suggests

The plastic trays that passengers put their hand luggage in at security checkpoints have the highest numbers of viruses of anywhere in an airport new research suggests

Trays have a tendency to collect germs - whether in the airport or on the plane.

There's one place to avoid at the airport if you want to keep yourself from getting sick: the plastic trays at security that items are piled into before being scanned.

Rhinovirus, which causes the common cold, was the virus that was most frequently picked up in the tests.

The airport security tray is the most virus-laden surface in the airport, according to a study.

Areas of the Helsinki-Vantaa airport - which saw nearly 19 million passengers in 2017 - were tested for viral contamination, with 90 surface samples and four air samples collected over a three-week period in 2016.

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

Although the security trays had the highest count of bacteria, other high-risk areas were near the cash registers at shops, along staircase railings, on the counters where passports are checked, in children's play areas, and in the air all around the airport.

Professor of Health Protection Jonathan Van Tam, from the University's School of Medicine, said in a statement that the results will help to raise awareness of how viral infections are spread.

'The new findings support preparedness planning for controlling the spread of serious infectious diseases in airports.

Numerous surfaces we touch on a daily basis harbor and can spread germs.

Viruses were not detected in most of the samples collected from toilets, which the scientists believe may be due to people paying particular attention to hand hygiene when in the airport.

"The presence of microbes in the environment of an airport has not been investigated previously", said Niina Ikonen, a virology expert at the Finnish institute, who was involved in the study.

It's also hoped the new study's shocking results will lead to changes in "technical improvements in airport design and refurbishment".