You thought your bathroom had the highest concentration of germs? No, it pales in comparison to what you face when traveling on an airplane…and that’s before you even board the aircraft.
Here is a quick primer about bacteria. The term CFU is translated to “Colony-forming units of bacteria per square inch of surface”. Let’s put this in perspective, the typical kitchen counter measures 361 CFU according to the National Science Foundation. Your radiator and water tap are 900 to 1000. Your toilet seat actually has less, at about 125.
So why is airplane travel worse? Here are some startling statistics: your fold down tray table has 11,595 CFUs, and your seat buckle has 1116, ten times your home toilet seat! Worse, your bench armrest totals 21,630 followed by airport drinking fountain buttons at 19,181. But, your worst risk is before you even board the aircraft. Remember that kiosk where you checked in? The screen on the airport kiosk comes in at a whopping 253,857, or 2,000 times what your home toilet seat tests.
What is the answer? Here are some tips. Always carry some hand sanitizer and sanitary-wipes. Use the sanitizer every time you touch one of the commonly used items such as the check-in kiosk and the wipes when you first sit down in your seat. Be sure to wipe the buckle, the table tray and the armrest. Then dispose of the wipe and use the hand sanitizer to finish the job. And, an extra layer of protection during this flu season is a facemask. All of these items are found in your corner pharmacy.
You shouldn’t freak out, just be aware and take reasonable precautions. In the Alta Health reception area, we have face masks available in order to take precaution about airborne dangers. We also wipe down hard surfaces frequently, and have hand sanitizer available at the counter, in reception and every exam room.