This is the dirtiest area in the airport, study finds

Credit: Spencer Platt

Credit: Spencer Platt

Travelers are undoubtedly exposed to germs when walking through the airport. But some parts are dirtier than others, according to a new report.

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Researchers from the University of Nottingham in England and the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland recently conducted a study to determine the filthiest locations in the airport.

To do so, they headed to the Helsinki Airport in Finland during and after peak passenger times in the winter of 2016. They swabbed a variety of surfaces to identify different viruses.

After analyzing the results, they found proof of viruses on 10 percent of surfaces. The security checkpoint was the dirtiest area, with security trays carrying the most germs. Viruses were also found on payment terminals, staircase rails and passport checking counters.

They said rhinovirus, which causes the common cold, was the most common virus detected. They also picked up the influenza A virus.

"The new findings support preparedness planning for controlling the spread of serious infectious diseases in airports," co-author Niina Ikonen said in a statement.

To prevent the spread of germs, the experts advise people to wash their hands and cough into a handkerchief, tissue or sleeve.

"These simple precautions can help prevent pandemics and are most important in crowded areas like airports that have a high volume of people traveling to and from many different parts of the world," co-author Jonathan Van Tam added.

The study results were published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases.

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