Getting sick during your family vacation is never fun—and airports are notorious germ havens. With a steady stream of travelers passing through every day, it’s no wonder that these travel hubs are breeding grounds for bacteria. A recent study found that plastic security bins, like TSA airport security line bins, are one of the most germ-infested places that travelers pass through. (Ew.)

The research, published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases, looked at surface and air samples from the Helsinki-Vantaa airport in Finland. The researchers collected samples during the 2015-2016 flu season to conduct their study. What they found will definitely have you wanting to take a shower after reading.

Photo: Belinda Fewings via Unsplash

So what did they find? Well, you might think that public restrooms had the highest concentrations of germs. And while public restrooms aren’t exactly germ-free, they didn’t rank the highest, a.k.a., the germ-iest. Ten percent of all surfaces tested had at least one respiratory virus on it.

Fifty percent of plastic hand-carried luggage trays at security checkpoints were seriously germy. According to the study, “of the surfaces tested, plastic security screening trays appeared to pose the highest potential risk, and handling these is almost inevitable for all embarking passengers.”

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What can you do to reduce the risk of picking up more than just your luggage at the airport? There are three little magic words that you need to remember—wash your hands. Oh, and make your kids wash theirs, too. Proper hand washing is an easy way to keep your family safe and healthy while traveling.

—Erica Loop

 

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