Flying is hard enough between full flights, delays and lost baggage.
Now there’s another thing to worry about, if you weren’t already – getting sick from all the germs.
A new study is out with just how long germs can survive on airplanes.
Have you ever felt like you got sick from something you picked up on a plane?
A new study examined how long two potentially deadly bacteria – E. coli and MRSA – can live on various surfaces inside an airplane’s cabin, and how easily they are transmitted by contact.
Researchers at Auburn University used actual armrests, toilet flush handles, tray tables, window shades, seats and seat pockets provided by Delta Airlines for the study – inoculating them with bacteria and storing them in conditions meant to simulate a pressurized cabin: 75 degrees Fahrenheit at 20% humidity.
In general, bacteria lived longest on the most porous surfaces.
For example, MRSA lasted seven days on the cloth seat pocket, six days on the rubber armrest and leather seat, five days on the plastic window shade and tray table, and four days on the steel toilet handle.
E. coli, by one measure, survived four days on the rubber armrest, three days on the plastic tray table, and two days on the steel toilet handle.
By contrast, the bacteria on less porous materials like tray tables, toilet handles and window shades scored much higher than seat pockets and leather seats for transmissibility – meaning bacteria on these surfaces were far more likely to transfer to human skin.
If this has your skin crawling, one microbiology professor suggests to protect yourself when flying by bringing hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes with you on the plane.