For anyone who has flown after 9-11 the enhanced security is just something they must deal with. Part of the security screening process requires that all individuals to remove their shoes and all metal items from their pockets and place them in plastic trays for scanning. Now, research has revealed that those plastic trays may be crawling with viruses.
Researchers took samples from a variety of surfaces at Helsinki-Vantaa airport in Finland during the winter of 2016 and found evidence of respiratory viruses on 10 percent of the surfaces. Researchers found that the highest levels were found on plastic trays used at the hand luggage X-ray checkpoint, but viruses were also detected on shop payment terminals, staircase rails, passport checking counters, children’s play areas and in the air. Of course one surface that was found to have no respiratory viruses were toilet surfaces.
The report serves as a heads up for people to be aware of how viral infections spread. The emphasis is on always being mindful of keeping the spread of contagion by following simple hygiene rules like washing hands and coughing or sneezing into a hankerchief rather than out into the air.
This study is believed to be the first time the presence of microbes in the environment of an airport has been investigated. The new findings support preparedness planning for controlling the spread of serious infectious diseases in airports. It is also hoped that these studies can lead to new ideas for technical improvements in airport design and refurbishment.
Viruses are part of the natural environment and are with us everywhere we go. Wherever there are large concentrations of people there is also the potential for large amounts of viruses and other harmful elements to congregate. There is not much anyone can do to eliminate this threat completely, but following the simple hygiene hints mentioned before can help a little.