“Presence of dangerous bacteria….evidence of fecal matter….can potentially lead to overwhelming infections in your bloodstream.” Sounds scary, right? Where would something like this be? you might ask. Well, according to a travel story from NBC tests revealed it was in security bins at an airport!
It makes unfortunate, disgusting sense when you think about it. Shoes go in those bins. Think about all the nasty places we have to walk in our shoes. Now multiply that by the number of times the bin gets shoes put in it before it’s cleaned. Same goes for luggage. We roll our luggage on the same floors we walk on. Our luggage then gets put on the belt where those same bins roll across. Our laptops go in those bins which in turn go back in our bag to spread the bacteria even further. The list goes on and on. Then there’s the machine that tests liquids when you need bring something like breast milk through security for your child. Are those machines cleaned between every test??
I took it upon myself to get a response from the TSA. I provided them a link to the story and asked how often they clean the security bins and the machine that tests liquids that need to go through security. Here’s what they said-
Thank you for your e-mail to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Contact Center, regarding how often we clean the divestiture bins at our Nation’s airports.
The TSA management at each airport is responsible for the orderly operations and safe working conditions at their respective sites. Bins are maintained on a schedule as determined by local staff, as well as on an as-needed basis to address immediate spills, etc. Divestiture tables, screening equipment (e.g., liquid container screening machines), are similarly maintained on a schedule determined by local management.
Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns with us, and we hope this information is helpful.
It was the answer I was expecting: a safe, nonspecific response. Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciate the TSA getting back to me on this, but it’s obvious that the current methods they use to keep security clean isn’t working. I’m not a cleanliness expert by any means but there has to be a way to keep those areas cleaner. Maybe instead of using bins for shoes they could use flat trays? The flat trays would take up way less room and the cleaning of them could be managed more effectively. As far as the liquid machine goes, they should disinfect that after every use if they aren’t doing so already. It just seems like that machine could spread bacteria pretty easily.
I’m guessing there won’t be any changes to the security bin cleaning schedule in the near future so bring disinfectant wipes (they are allowed through security)—that way if you have to use the bins you can at least clean them first. Although the best case scenario is to get TSA Pre-check so you don’t have to take your shoes off or take anything out of your bag! Of course, no matter what you do, make sure to wash your hands frequently while traveling.
If you’ve got a few minutes, watch that whole video. It’s pretty terrible but I for one am glad to know what’s really there. Ick. Read about staying healthy while traveling from a previous post I did.
Readers, what are your thoughts? Would you ever wipe a security bin down before using it?
Have a travel question or suggestion? Send it to RoadWarriorette @ gmail.com.
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