Those Bins in the Airport Security Line Are Germ-Infested Cesspools

iStock
iStock

Here’s something to add to your list of travel concerns: Those plastic bins that send your phone, shoes, and wallet through airport X-rays are teeming with potentially health-threatening germs, according to a new study spotted by Sky News.

Finnish and British researchers swabbed trays at the Helsinki Airport and discovered that half of the samples were contaminated with rhinovirus or adenovirus—two categories of common viruses that can trigger cold-like symptoms. In addition, they also took samples of various airport surfaces, and 10 percent of those tested positive for viruses. However, plastic security bins reportedly pose the greatest health threat.

Researchers suggested that hand sanitizer be offered at the end of the security line to help reduce the risk of infection. “To our knowledge, security trays are not routinely disinfected,” they wrote in their study, published in the journal BioMed Central Infectious Diseases. “Although this would not eliminate all viruses on hands, (e.g. alcohol gels have been found to be less effective than hand-washing for rhinovirus), it is effective for many viruses, including influenza.”

While this discovery may seem alarming, it must be noted that the sample size for this study—eight bins, plus swabs from 12 other surfaces around the airport—was small. The samples were also taken three times during Finland's "peak period of seasonal influenza" from 2015 to 2016, and different airports with different degrees of cleanliness could potentially yield different results.

It doesn’t hurt to play it safe and bring your own hand sanitizer along for the journey, though. The tray tables on airplanes are also known to be incredibly dirty—despite the fact that travelers eat off them—so you may want to make room in your carry-on for sanitizing wipes, too.

[h/t Sky News]

The ChopBox Smart Cutting Board Has a Food Scale, Timer, and Knife Sharper Built Right Into It

ChopBox
ChopBox

When it comes to furnishing your kitchen with all of the appliances necessary to cook night in and night out, you’ll probably find yourself running out of counter space in a hurry. The ChopBox, which is available on Indiegogo and dubs itself “The World’s First Smart Cutting Board,” looks to fix that by cramming a bunch of kitchen necessities right into one cutting board.

In addition to giving you a knife-resistant bamboo surface to slice and dice on, the ChopBox features a built-in digital scale that weighs up to 6.6 pounds of food, a nine-hour kitchen timer, and two knife sharpeners. It also sports a groove on its surface to catch any liquid runoff that may be produced by the food and has a second pull-out cutting board that doubles as a serving tray.

There’s a 254nm UVC light featured on the board, which the company says “is guaranteed to kill 99.99% of germs and bacteria" after a minute of exposure. If you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to cleanliness, the ChopBox is completely waterproof (but not dishwasher-safe) so you can wash and scrub to your heart’s content without worry. 

According to the company, a single one-hour charge will give you 30 days of battery life, and can be recharged through a Micro USB port.

The ChopBox reached its $10,000 crowdfunding goal just 10 minutes after launching its campaign, but you can still contribute at different tiers. Once it’s officially released, the ChopBox will retail for $200, but you can get one for $100 if you pledge now. You can purchase the ChopBox on Indiegogo here.

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The Right Way to Clean Your Face Mask

Properly cleaning your face mask is important to keep it free of infectious material.
Properly cleaning your face mask is important to keep it free of infectious material.
mikography/iStock via Getty Images

In an effort to slow the transmission of coronavirus in public settings, health officials are advising that people unable to practice social distancing wear a cloth face mask. While not as effective at filtering respiratory droplets as medical-grade masks, cloth masks are still recommended as a practical preventative step.

Like all apparel, masks get dirty. They absorb sweat and germs, and they need to be cleaned. But how?

According to National Geographic, the best way to clean a cloth face mask is to take the same approach as the rest of your laundry—toss it in the washer. Laundry detergent is effective against coronavirus because the pathogen is encased in a layer of oily lipids and proteins. Detergents and hand soaps contain surfactants, which reduce the surface tension of the fatty layer. The surfactant molecule is attracted to oil and grease on one end and water on the other. The end that disrupts the oil bursts the coronavirus envelope apart. Tiny pods of surfactant called micelles trap and wash the remnants away. It’s this activity, not the water temperature, that kills the virus, though using a higher dryer temperature can destroy most microorganisms that might be lingering.

Bear in mind there’s a recommended way to take off your mask. Make sure your hands are clean, then pull it off using the straps behind your ears. This avoids contaminating the mask—and your face—with any pathogens that might be on your hands.

Medical-grade masks are trickier, as they’re intended to be used only once and can’t stand up to a wash cycle. If you have an N95 or paper mask, you can set it aside for several days, at which point the virus is likely to become inactive. But keep in mind that health officials still aren’t entirely sure how long coronavirus can persist on surfaces, and it’s possible for a mask to collect particles over time, increasing the viral load.

But what about the rest of your clothes? Experts say not to worry so much about disrobing the minute you get home. The coronavirus likes moisture and dries out quickly on fabrics. You need to be careful with the material covering your face, but the rest of your outfit can wait until your regularly scheduled laundry appointment.

[h/t National Geographic]