05/21/2014

Plane seat-back pockets germier than toilet handles

NEWS

Most people realize that the inside of an airplane can be very friendly to germs.  And, according to a study at Auburn University, the seat-back pockets may be one of the germiest places in the cabin, even more so than the toilet handle in the plane's bathroom.

The researchers tested how long Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA, and E. coli bacteria could survive in the aircraft cabin while exposed to typical conditions, such as human sweat and saliva. The scientists analyzed the survival skills of the bacteria on six surfaces, including an armrest, plastic tray table, metal toilet handle, window shade, a cloth seat pocket and a leather seat pocket.

They found that the MRSA lived for the least amount of time on the toilet seat handle, but was present for longer than a week on the seat-back pockets. E.coli survived the longest on the armrest--about four days.

The researchers said that certain types of bacteria may survive longer on plane surfaces due to differing structures. The outer membrane components of bacteria can make them more or less susceptible to adverse environments.

The scientists said their study emphasizes the need for following good hygiene practices on an airplane.

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