Airport security trays carry more diseases than toilets

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The study pointed out that handling the plastic security trays is nearly inevitable for travelers - unlike using airport store payment points, for example.

As per the results, half of the trays tested positive for viruses like influenza A and B viruses and rhinovirus or adenovirus.

"Each security tray is rapidly recycled and potentially touched by several hundred passengers per day... trays are non-porous and virus survival is known to be prolonged".

A new study says that plastic trays that passengers put their hand luggage in at security checkpoints have the highest numbers of viruses of anywhere in an airport, including toilets.

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

Finavia, the company that operates Helsinki Airport, said in an email: "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".

A survey's found these trays are where diseases are most likely to lurk at airports.

And when the scientists repeatedly swabbed a plastic toy dog in the airport's children's playground, they found that the toy played host to cold-causing viruses a whopping 67 percent of the time.

Four of eight swabs taken from the plastic bins had evidence of a respiratory virus.

The airport study was carried out during and after peak passenger density at the airport by a method which detects genetic material from viruses on surfaces and in the air.

Surprisingly, of all the samples tested, security trays were found to be harboring the highest potential risk of viral contamination.

According to the University of Nottingham the study is part of a larger research project funded by the European Union that investigates how airports and other travel-heavy checkpoints are platforms for spreading serious infections.

"People can help to minimise contagion by hygienic hand washing and coughing into a hankerchief, tissue, or sleeve at all times but especially in public places", Jonathan Van Tam, professor of health protection at the university, said in a statement.

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