The sting in the tail~Posted: January 20, 2019
Sometimes traveling goes well. Easy flights, no wait at the baggage claim area, the rental car choice is excellent. That makes your trip roll along smoothly.
But, air travel can be likened to a scorpion.
There is a sting in the tail…
Catching a cold.
Microbiologists have tested planes and found that germs are commonplace, and can survive for hours or days after the passenger who brought them on board has departed.
Some of the 200 or so viruses that can cause the common cold can infect people for up to 18 hours after they have left the body, and flu viruses can infect people for up to eight hours after being let loose.
As well as causing the common cold and influenza, these bugs and viruses can cause everything from skin diseases and upset stomachs. Studies have found MRSA and E. Coli can live on the plane for over a week.
Where are the dirtiest places on a plane?
- Tray table
- Overhead air vents
- Toilet flush buttons
- Seat belt buckles
A 2013 report conducted for the Federal Aviation Administration in the US concluded that while fresh air is germ-free at high altitudes, aircraft HEPA filters effectively remove bacteria and viruses, as well as dust and fungi.
However, there could be a greater risk of exposure when the plane is parked at the gate, when auxiliary power units generally provide ventilation and not the aircraft’s own system. This helps germs to spread through the cabin more easily.
Another culprit could be the low relative humidity of cabin air. The typical relative humidity on planes is around 11 per cent. Some research suggests that low humidity interrupts the Mucociliary Clearance System, which consists of a thin layer of mucus and tiny hairs in the nose. This protective system traps viruses and bacteria and moves them from the nose to the throat, where they are swallowed and destroyed by acid in the stomach.
Because this system no longer works properly, bacteria and viruses get easier access to your lungs.
Whatever way it gets to you…you run the risk of becoming sick on a flight from directly inhaling particles in the air from someone’s coughing or sneezing. You can also become sick if you touch an infected surface and then touch your eyes, mouth or nasal passages.
(Note: dievca got the armrests and toilet handle – but she missed the tray table and seat buckle with her cleaning activities. And she sat at the gate for an extra hour on the last flight. Sigh.)
dievca’s solution is this:
(click on the photo for the recipe)