The dirtiest place at the airport is in the security line: study

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Researchers with the University of Nottingham and Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare found plastic trays used at airport security checkpoints host the highest level of viruses at airports. | AP file photo

A study uncovered the airport destination with the most germs, and it’s not the bathroom.

Researchers with the University of Nottingham and Finland’sNational Institute for Health and Welfare found plastic trays used at airport security checkpoints host the highest level of viruses at airports.

The study was carried out atHelsinki-Vantaa airport in Finland during and after peak passenger times in the winter of 2016. Researchers swabbed a variety of surfaces to learn what viruses linger at frequently-touched places at the airport.

Results found proof of viruses on 10 percent of surfaces, with security trays as the most common culprit. Viruses were also found on payment terminals, staircase rails, and passport checking counters. The studyfound no respiratory viruses were found on toilet surfaces.

The study was published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases.

Researchers hope the study spreads more public awareness on how viruses spread, particularly at a crowded location such as an airport.

“The new findings support preparedness planning for controlling the spread of serious infectious diseases in airports,” said virology expert Niina Ikonen from the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, in a statement.

Researchers say rhinovirus, which causes the common cold, was the most common virus found, but the study also picked up the influenza A virus. Experts advise washing hands and coughing into handkerchiefs or tissues to prevent the spread of viruses.

“These simple precautions can help prevent pandemics and are most important in crowded areas like airports that have a high volume of people travelingto and from many different parts of the world,” said Jonathan Van Tam, a professor of health protection at the University of Nottingham’s School of Medicine, in a statement.

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