Imagine the dirtiest, most germ-infested place you can think of in an airport. You’re probably thinking of toilets, but it might come as a surprise that airport security checks pose more of a health risk than the average lavatory.

According to a study carried out at Helsinki airport in Finland, of all the places in the airport, it’s the trays used during security checks that contain the most pathogens that could make you sick.

Published by the BioMed Central Infectious Diseases journal, the study compared samples taken from various surfaces at three different times during peak flu season from 2015 to 2016 in Finland’s main airport and found less viruses on toilet seats and toilet buttons than in luggage trays.

Not everyone goes to the toilet at the airport, but almost all of us go through the security line. Surfaces were tested for the presence of the influenza A and B viruses, coronaviruses, the adenovirus and rhinovirus, which cause cold-like symptoms.

The study found that due to their high touch rates, the plastic security screening trays pose the highest risk of contamination – because almost all travellers handle them before boarding.

If you are worried about hygiene, sanitising wipes and dry antibacterial solutions that do not require water can be used to disinfect your hands and personal items quickly and conveniently. – dpa