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Security line at Helsinki Airport (photo: Finavia)

Airport security boxes are worst for viruses

A British-Finnish investigation finds that there is a high risk for the spread of viruses at airports, especially at security.

The plastic boxes used at security control to take passengers’ carry-on items through the scanner are the worst carriers of viruses at airports, a new study shows.

The British-Finnish investigation was conducted as part of an EU initiative during a recent flu season, Swedish Radio and Norway Today report.

A Finnish airport was tested on three occasions for the presence of viruses that affect the respiratory tract, with samples taken at different parts of the airport that have a high presence of passengers.

The samples were taken from the objects they most often touched.

Playground for viruses
The researchers found, among other things, the influenza A and B viruses, adenovirus and rhinovirus in areas such as the playrooms and games areas, toilets, stairways and gates.

Around 10% of all of the samples showed the presence of respiratory viruses, the worst-affected objects being the plastic boxes that take bags, jackets, laptops, shoes and other items through the security check.

“The plastic checkboxes seem to pose the greatest potential risk, but touching these is virtually unavoidable for outgoing passengers,” the researchers write, warning that this has the potential to pose a significant risk for international virus outbreaks.

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