You probably wash your hands after using the airport bathroom—but what about after going through the security line? You might want to start, because a new study from the UK's University of Nottingham and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare found that those trays you put your belongings in as you go through security had more cold germs on them than airport toilets, the New York Times reports. Researchers analyzed a variety of surfaces at Finland's Helsinki-Vantaa airport during peak flu season in 2015-16 and found evidence of respiratory viruses (including the common cold, influenza, and others) on 10% of them, CNN reports. But researchers highlight the security trays as the biggest risk, with 50% of them having respiratory virus germs on them.
Respiratory virus germs were also found on surfaces in the children's play area, payment terminals, stair handrails, and a desk and divider glass at the passport check area. No respiratory virus germs were found on toilets—a finding referred to as "interesting" in a press release. "People can help to minimize contagion by hygienic hand washing and coughing into a hankerchief, tissue or sleeve at all times but especially in public places," says a researcher. "These simple precautions can help prevent pandemics and are most important in crowded areas like airports that have a high volume of people travelling to and from many different parts of the world." Researchers also suggest airports install hand sanitization stations near areas of "intense, repeat touching of surfaces."