Feeling sick after a vacation is pretty normal if you spent some time on airplanes and in airports. It could be due to respiratory viruses as a recent study published in the BMC Infectious Diseases journal shows. The study attempted to map the location of germs in the average airport, and the biggest virus hotspot isn’t what you’re thinking.
According to the study, which took samples from 90 locations around an airport, the filthiest place of all was the TSA security bins. They have more viruses than even the bathroom toilet seats.
Some surfaces that you might expect to harbor a ton of germs were actually clean, such as upper surface the toilet bowl lid and button for flushing.
Viral nucleic acid was found in samples from the surfaces of a plastic toy dog in the children’s playground (two of three swabs, 66.7%), the buttons of the payment terminal at the pharmacy (one of two, 50%), the handrails of stairs (one of seven, 14%) and the passenger side of desk and divider glass at the passport control points (one of three, 33.3%). One sample (of 7) from stair handrails was positive for coronavirus OC43.
This study only focused on Helsinki-Vantaa airport, the main airport in Finland.