A new study by found that half of plastic airport security bins may carry viruses that cause respiratory infections.
The study, published last week in the BioMed Central Infectious Diseases journal, tested swabs from surface samples of the plastic bins at Helsinki Airport that were taken at three different times during the peak of the 2015-2016 flu season.
Four of eight samples contained the rhinovirus or adenovirus, which cause cold-like symptoms.
The lead authors of the article, who hailed from Finland's National Institute for Health and Welfare and the University of Nottingham, concluded that the screening trays "appear commonly contaminated" and that they are one of the surfaces at an airport where passengers are most likely to pick up harmful viruses.
Of the samples taken at the desks and glass dividers at the airport's passport control checkpoint, 1 in 3 contained the rhinovirus.
And when the scientists repeatedly swabbed a plastic toy dog in the airport's children's playground, they found that the toy played host to cold-causing viruses a whopping 67 percent of the time.
In these cases, the scientists concluded, the best approach might be the simplest one: a good old-fashioned wipedown.
"Many cleaning agents, household (antibacterial) wipes and anti-viral tissues are able to rapidly render influenza virus nonviable, offering multiple simple possibilities and opportunities for reducing the risk of indirect contact transmission," the scientists said.
Frequent cleaning, they pointed out, is exactly why an unlikely surface topped the list of the most virus-free spots in the airport: the toilet. Of the 42 samples taken on toilet lids, on the flush buttons, and on the door locks, there were zero samples where scientists detected the presence of a cold virus.
Read the full story at the Washington Post.