• 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

    Facebook bans white nationalist over hate speech

    by CBS News on Aug 16, 17:08

    MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Facebook (FB) has banned the Facebook and Instagram accounts of a white nationalist who attended the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that ended in deadly violence. Facebook spokeswoman Ruchika Budhraja tells The Associated Press that the profile pages of Christopher Cantwell have been removed as well as a page connected to his podcast. […]

  • News

    Governors of 2 pot states push back on Trump administration

    by Associated Press on Aug 16, 16:34

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) – Governors in at least two states that have legalized recreational marijuana are pushing back against the Trump administration and defending their efforts to regulate the industry. Alaska Gov. Bill Walker sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week, asking the Department of Justice to maintain the Obama administration’s […]

  • News

    Loss of sea ice leads walruses to early appearance in Alaska

    by Associated Press on Aug 16, 15:51

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says Pacific walruses have begun coming ashore along Alaska’s northwest coast, and it’s likely because sea ice in the Arctic Ocean already has receded beyond the outer continental shelf. Walruses by the thousands in recent years have come ashore in early fall. The agency says […]

  • News

    NY Times’ editorial page editor: No apology for Sarah Palin

    by Associated Press on Aug 16, 15:42

    NEW YORK (AP) – The editorial page editor of The New York Times has been grilled in federal court by a lawyer for Sarah Palin, who’s suing over an editorial that linked right-wing political rhetoric to the 2011 shooting of former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords. The newspaper published the editorial in June after a gunman […]

  • News

    Airport post office taking over Anchorage passport applications

    by Chris Klint on Aug 16, 15:09

    If you’re applying for a U.S. passport in Anchorage you’ll soon have to head for the airport, as the U.S. Postal Service puts all of its local passport-related operations under a single roof. A dedicated passport center will open five days a week, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Monday, at the main […]

  • Peter Pan Seafoods Port Moller plant devastated in overnight fire

    by Dave Bendinger / KDLG on Aug 16, 13:13

    The 100-year-old Peter Pan Seafoods processing plant in Port Moller has been devastated by a massive fire that burned through the night and into Wednesday morning. So far no one has been reported injured, but power, running water, and most phone and internet connections are down in the remote community. Chris Clemens skippers the fishing […]

  • Penn. man fined $9K over false residency claim in Alaska bear hunts

    by KTVA Web Staff on Aug 16, 12:52

    A man from Pennsylvania will pay a steep penalty over two illegal Alaska bear kills, after Alaska Wildlife Troopers say he falsely claimed to be an Alaska resident when he applied to hunt them near the Brooks Range. Brian Schoenly, 53, was ordered to pay $9,000 in fines plus $1,900 in restitution, troopers spokeswoman Megan […]

  • DayBreak

    Workforce Wednesday: Dental laboratory technician

    by Daybreak Staff on Aug 16, 11:36

    A Dental Laboratory Technician is a career in the medical field which directly impacts a person’s day-to-day life and requires attention to detail. Sean Siegal, owner of Castable Ceramics, says the goal is to take prescriptions from local dental offices and fill them. This would entail creating crowns, molars, and even dentures. These ceramics are not […]