In yet another horrifying story about the perils of air travel, a new study found that the trays you literally have to touch to pass through security and board your flight are more germ-ridden than most toilets. Which means every time you load all your personal belongings—including your cell phone, which frequently touches your face—into one of those little trays, you're basically dunking them into a potty.
Published in the BMC Infectious Diseases journal, the study looked to discover what the germiest places in most airports may be. Researchers found evidence of viruses on 10 percent of all the surfaces they tested, which include card machines at shops, staircase rails, passport checking counters, children's play areas, the air, and the fucking nasty security trays. The most common viruses they found include rhinovirus (the cause of the common cold) and influenza.
Since flying on an airplane is just sitting in a rapidly moving tube of germs and farts, researchers are understandably interested in learning more about how viruses are spread along the process of air travel. Perhaps so everyone can better avoid situations where entire planes have to be quarantined because people on board fell violently ill during the trip.
"This study supports the case for improved public awareness of how viral infections spread," Jonathan Van Tram, a researcher involved in the study, said in an accompanying statement.
The study suggests airports could provide hand sanitizer where "intense, repeat touching of surfaces takes place, such as immediately before and after security screening." A hell of a suggestion, considering how wildly disgusting these trays apparently are. If anything, this is all the more reason to fly with zero belongings, and simply drift through security refusing to touch any surfaces around you.
Safe travels, everyone. Please wash your hands.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.