Last updated on January 7th, 2015
You will be shocked at the potential dangers of simply touching the seat-back pocket, the arm rests, tray tables, or the window shades while flying or on public transportation.
Bacteria is VERY LIKELY lurking on these places, waiting to infect you…
A recent study says:
A recent study by researchers at Auburn University in Alabama – investigating to see where on a plane bacteria could live long enough to sicken passengers, was recently summarized by various news outlet reports.
The AARP Newsletter suggests you take some advice for the next time you fly:
Bring plenty of hand sanitizer, and don’t touch the seat-back pocket — where, new research shows, disease-causing germs can live for more than a week.
For their research they picked six surfaces that passengers typically touch and infected them.
MRSA, a sometimes-fatal, antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria often found in hospitals and nursing homes.
E. coli, a virulent strain of the food poisoning bacteria that can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting.
Here are the places bacteria hung around the longest,
Seat pocket: 8 days
Rubber armrest: 7 days
Leather seat: 7 days
Plastic window shade: 3 days
Plastic tray table: 3 days
Steel toilet handle: 2 days
As it turns out, the seat pocket is worse than the toilet handle! With its porous material and dark crevices, MRSA germs burrowed in there for eight days, while E. coli hunkered down in the armrest for seven days.
The bacteria might have lasted longer on the porous surfaces, like the seat pocket, but they’re more easily transmitted to your hands when they’re on nonporous surfaces, like the plastic tray table and window shade. For example, transmission of E. coli in sweat on tray tables remained very high even after 72 hours, but it was at zero within the same time period for armrests.
“I wouldn’t touch that pocket. I think that it should be replaced with something less porous,” said Kiril Vaglenov, a postdoctoral fellow in materials science who led the study.
You’re not the only one squeezed into that airplane seat – you’ve got lots of invisible company.
Every time you take your seat on an airplane flight, you’re traveling with some hidden companions, courtesy of the passengers (and those who came before you). No surprise that airline cabins, from the seats to the seat pockets and the tray tables and lavatories, are blanketed with germs.
Here’s a scary fact – the average human loses 30,000 to 40,000 skin cells every hour, and our skin is covered in bacteria – some of which are harmful. An estimated 1% to 2% of people in the U.S. may be carriers of methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), for example, which can produce sores on the skin and be life-threatening if it enters the bloodstream, many without showing any symptoms.
The Washington Post says,
If you’re coming to realize why authorities are so alarmed at the decreasing effectiveness of common antibiotics, maybe all this publicity is a good thing. People need to be aware of how prevalent pathogens are in their environment and how often they come in contact with them.
The best defense is simple hand hygiene; to wash our hands.
It’s also a reminder of our vulnerabilities in a modern world of billions of people with easy and rapid travel to and from so many places around the globe.
Can you say, “pandemic”?