Published: Sat, September 08, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Why you should always wash your hands after passing airport security

Why you should always wash your hands after passing airport security

The report, which was published in the BMC Infectious Diseases journal, claims to have monitored germ levels on a variety of surfaces at the airport to come to the conclusion.

At the conclusion of the study centered on Helsinki Airport, the researchers concluded that airports should offer hand sanitizer to travelers before and after each security checkpoint, and that the baggage trays should be cleaned and disinfected more frequently.

Other germ hotspots were shop payment terminals, staircase rails, passport checking counters, children's play areas and - unavoidably - in the air.

Four of 8 samples contained the rhinovirus or adenovirus, which both cause cold-like symptoms.

"A passenger has a virus and they breathe down into them they can deposit a little bit of virus along with their shoes and luggage into the bin", he said.

Researchers from the University of Nottingham and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare swabbed services around the Helsinki-Vantaa airport to identify the places with the most germs.

"These boxes typically cycle with high frequency to subsequent passengers, and are typically seized with a wide palm surface area and strong grip".

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The most common virus found in the survey was rhinovirus, which causes the common cold but the swabs also picked up the influenza A virus.

Surprisingly, of all the samples tested, security trays were found to be harboring the highest potential risk of viral contamination. They wrote that since passengers pay more attention to hygiene and hand washing in the washrooms, there are no respiratory viruses on these surfaces.

'People can help to minimise contagion by hygienic hand washing and coughing into a handkerchief, tissue or sleeve at all times - but especially in public places.

"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.

The authors have warned that these airports can be a potential risk area from where infections can spread to even "pandemic" proportions.

You probably wash your hands after using the airport bathroom-but what about after going through the security line?

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