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This is the Dirtiest Place in an Airport

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By Danielle Tullo, House Beautiful

Airports are a germ factory: the constant in-and-out bathroom traffic, the gate with the person who cannot stop sneezing (and isn't covering their mouth), the charging station everyone's hovering over. The crazy thing, though, is that none of those places are nearly as grimy as ... the check-in kiosk.

Right, now you're like, duuuh, of course! You almost forget about that kiosk because it's the first thing you're greeted with and there are so many other germ-y spots to distract you. But, a recent study conducted by a Texas-based company, Insurance Quotes, found the area is loaded with bacteria and fungi.

The company ran 18 tests across 6 different surfaces at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta last holiday season. They focused on the self check-in area, water fountain button, toilet flush button, tray table, seat belt buckle, and an airline gate bench armrest.

Here's what the study found:

    With mass amounts of traffic, self check-in kiosks are the quick stop for many flyers. The kiosks may offer more convenience, but at what cost? According to our research, the average self check-in screen contained 253,857 CFU – over 13 times more than the average CFU of an airport water fountain button. One check-in screen recorded over 1 million CFU. In comparison, an average of only 172 CFU are found on toilet seats.

For fun, here's a breakdown of the germs they found throughout the airport:
  • Gram-positive cocci, which can cause pus-filled infections
  • Gram-negative rods, typically found in hospitals
  • Bacillus, a bacteria that cause food to spoil and create disease
  • Yeast, which is found on spots of moisture and on human skin
  • Gram-positive rods, which are probiotic germs

The most common germs on the check-in kiosk, toilet flush button, tray table, and seat belt buckle were gram-positive cocci. That's the pus-causing germ! Aren't you excited for your next big vacation?!

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