One Germy, Filthy, Nasty Airport Surface People Forget Not To Touch

Winter travelers: this is the dirtiest spot in the airport |

Dec 21, 2019 | 

Mind-Body Green – The airport is the last thing standing between you and your vacation, and all you have to do is walk through it without getting sick.

But it’s easier said than done—especially during flu season.

Air travel is notoriously hard on the immune system.

Consider this your friendly reminder that the dirtiest spot in the airport probably isn’t the toilet; it’s the TSA bins.

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That’s what a team of researchers found when they sampled the surface and air quality at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport in Finland.

After testing 90 points in the airport—including the bathrooms—for various pathogens, they found that plastic security trays were the most “commonly contaminated” with the precursors to respiratory viruses.

Each bin can be touched by several hundred passengers a day before being disinfected.

Surprisingly enough, most bathrooms do not contain detectable respiratory viruses, likely because they are more regularly cleaned.

People also know to wash their hands and limit surface-touching in them.

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So until antibacterial bins become the norm (they’re just starting to roll out in airports across the U.S.), it can’t hurt to beeline to the bathroom sink after you get through security.

“Infectious diseases experts all agree that washing your hands at key times is crucial to ensure you stay healthy and help keep others you come in contact with healthy too,” Mera McGrew, founder and CEO of soap company Soapply, reminds mbg.

The other big moments she says to suds up in the airport include before eating, after using the toilet, and after sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose.

And don’t skimp on your time in front of the sink: Scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds is what the Mayo Clinic recommends.

Over the years, we’ve asked plenty of leading health experts for more of their tips for avoiding germs on the road and in the air.

To prepare your body for a long flight, toxicologist Rhea Mehta, Ph.D., recommends taking immunity-boosters for a few days before takeoff … Read more. 


  • Wear disposable gloves, just like TSA agent do
  • Put your loose items (wallet, phone, pocket change, pocket lint) inside your carry-on or your jacket (preferably with zippered pockets)
  • Don’t be that person carrying every possible item you can manage (plus two more) through security; clean out your pockets of junk before you get to the security line.
  • After security, make your first stop the rest room, and wash up good.
  • (Not germ related, but anyway … ) Keep up your good decision-making during boarding. Don’t be that person ambling down the aisle toting a roller bag, a jumbo purse, and a large coffee.

Apr 2, 2019

Why You Should Never Go Barefoot at Airport Security

SmartTraveler.com – Is it really that bad to go barefoot at airport security?

Expert opinions vary, but after reading this quote from podiatrist Dr. Michael Nirenberg, I’m firmly in the “keeping a barrier between my feet and the floor” camp.

Nirenberg says, “The risk is raised in cases of open sores or wounds, cuts, abrasions, dry, fissured skin, or poor circulation, diabetes … children are more susceptible to catching warts because their immune system is not fully developed.”

Or, if you turn to WebMD (as I always do when I want to confirm my very worst health fears), you’ll find alarming quotes, including this one from Dr. Rami Calis, DPM:

“Athlete’s foot is not the only issue. … Think of all the things that fall off people’s shoes.

Also, there might be small tacks or sharp pebbles that could cut you—and if you have an opening in the skin, that is asking for infection. Even a sock won’t protect your foot. If you do step on a tack, then we’re talking about [possibly] having to get a tetanus shot, and possible infections.”

The TSA, of course, disagrees. According to its blog, the TSA actually commissioned a 2003 study on this issue with the Department of Health and Human Services.

The study found that as long as the floor wasn’t moist, the possibility of contracting a foot fungus while walking through barefoot was “extremely small to remote.” Read more. 


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