• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 47s

Deadly germs can live in aircraft cabins for a week

By Jessica Firger / CBS News 1:10 PM May 20, 2014

Some of the most harmful and resilient bacteria on airplanes aren’t necessarily the ones from the sneezing old lady sitting next to you. They’re the germs that live on the upholstery of the chair, the tray table where the flight attendant places your lunch and on the metal buttons you press to move your seat or flush the toilet, according to new research just presented at the American Society for Microbiology’s annual meeting.

The researchers found bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and E. coli can live for up to a week on airplanes that aren’t sufficiently cleaned. The study was partially funded by the Federal Aviation Administration.

For the study, a team of microbiologists and engineers at Auburn University in Alabama, simulated travel in the friendly skies. They obtained various parts of an aircraft cabin — seats, upholstery and leather, metal items such as the toilet flusher button, armrests, window shades — in order to test the life of various types of bacteria and see how long it could survive on those surfaces.

All together researchers tested six different types of bacteria. They found MRSA could last for up to 168 hours on the back pocket of an airplane chair, while E. coli survived on average for about 96 hours on the material from the armrest. Experts say the dry air found in airplanes means they’re an especially hospitable place for bacteria to live.

Several frequent flyers told CBS News it makes sense.

“I’m not surprised. I try not to focus on that stuff otherwise I wouldn’t go anywhere,” passenger Anneke Hiatt told CBS News.

Health experts recommend passengers always carry alcohol-based hand sanitizer and use it frequently. Many germ-conscious travelers such as David Urban already take precautions to remain as germ-free as possible.

“I just make sure to wash my hands, I don’t touch my face, my mouth my nose,” Urban told CBS News.

In the future, the researchers plan to study the effectiveness of various methods for cleaning and disinfecting airplane surfaces and test out other materials that may have antimicrobial properties, which could help limit the presence of bacteria in aircraft cabins.

CBSNews.com

Latest Stories

  • News

    Potential record-setting year for Anchorage road construction projects

    by Lauren Maxwell on Jun 27, 19:17

    The state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT) says this year could set a new record for road construction projects in Southcentral Alaska. DOT spokeswoman Shannon McCarthy said 2015 set a record, with more than $300,000,000 spent on projects. This year, she said, spending could be even higher. McCarthy said the biggest ongoing project in […]

  • News

    Pediatricians urged to screen teens for suicide risks

    by Ashley Welch / CBS News on Jun 27, 16:22

    In the wake of new information that suicide has risen to the second-leading cause of death among adolescents, a leading group of physicians is urging pediatricians to screen their patients for suicidal thoughts and risk factors. In a new report, the American Academy of Pediatricians offers guidelines to help identify at-risk teens. According to the group, some […]

  • Lifestyle

    Nature Valley products recalled due to Listeria risk from sunflower kernels

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 27, 15:55

    General Mills has recalled Nature Valley products that contain ingredients recalled by SunOpta because of a potential Listeria contamination. “This recall only affects four flavors of Nature Valley’s nearly 40 different products,” the recall clarified. “Nature Valley’s other products are not affected by this recall.” The four products, which include sunflower kernels from SunOpta, are […]

  • News

    Teenage boy in Wasilla dies from gunshot wound, circumstances unclear

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 27, 15:24

    Alaska State Troopers say a teenaged boy in Wasilla died after being shot, but have not been able to determine if the wound was self-inflicted. The 16-year-old boy was first reported injured at 12:10 a.m. at a Wasilla home, according to an online dispatch. AST spokeswoman Megan Peters said the circumstances surrounding the shooting were […]

  • Lifestyle

    Volkswagon reaches $14.7B emissions settlement

    by Associated Press on Jun 27, 15:03

    A person briefed on the matter says Volkswagen would repair or buy back polluting vehicles and pay each owner as much $10,000 under a $14.7 billion legal settlement stemming from its emissions-cheating scandal. The person said Monday that the deal sets aside $10 billion to repair or buy back roughly 475,000 polluting Volkswagen vehicles with […]

  • News

    Humpback whale documented for more than 40 years found dead in Southeast Alaska

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 27, 15:02

    A humpback whale nicknamed “Festus” by researchers was found dead in Glacier Bay National Park near Point Carolus Sunday. Festus’ life had been recorded by researchers since he was first spotted in 1972, making him the longest-sighted humpback whale in Southeast Alaska, according to park officials. The operator of the M/V Yakobi spotted Festus and […]

  • Lifestyle

    US stocks, British pound fall further

    by Associated Press on Jun 27, 14:25

    Stocks are closing broadly lower in the U.S. as investors continue to grapple with the fallout of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. The British pound fell further on Monday as traders expected the British economy to suffer because of the “leave” vote. Also Monday Standard & Poor’s stripped the country of its top-shelf […]

  • News

    APD: Number of seat belt violations on the rise

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 27, 14:15

    During a two-week span earlier this year, the Anchorage Police Department issued more than 2,400 seat belt citations. According to a release from APD, the citations were part of the national Click It or Ticket campaign, which took place May 23 through June 4. Officers worked in groups at eight locations throughout the municipality, police said. Some […]