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]

This Cooling Weighted Blanket Helps You Sleep Soundly Without Overheating

Research has shown that weighted blankets, originally made for kids with anxiety and sensory processing issues, may also alleviate stress and anxiety in adults as well. But if you're someone who gets hot easily, sleeping beneath a heavy blanket at night may feel uncomfortable. The Hush Iced, a cooling version of the popular Hush blanket, is designed to change that.

One of the most common complaints Hush Blankets received from customers after releasing its original weighted blanket was that it made users too hot. So the team at Hush tweaked the outer material to make it friendlier to people who are prone to overheating while still providing the soothing deep-touch pressure of a weighted blanket.

The new Hush Iced, currently raising money on Kickstarter, comes with a special ultra-cooling cover. The thin bamboo and cotton fabric wicks away sweat and helps maintain your body temperature through the night. Inside is Hush's classic weighted blanket, with weight distribution technology that helps you feel relaxed and secure in bed. If you already have a Hush weighted blanket at home, the cooling cover is also available separately.

The Hush Iced weigh 15 to 25 pounds, and comes in standard (48-by-78-inch) and queen (60-by-80-inch) sizes. (Generally, Hush recommends choosing the weight of your blanket based on body weight—check out the Hush site for more information on selecting the right one.)

Buy it on Kickstarter starting at $128. The cooling cover is available on its own for $39.

Chronic Pain Happens Differently in Men and Women

iStock.com/PeopleImages
iStock.com/PeopleImages

Women often feel colder than men due to physical differences. Now, a new study shows that the two sexes have different biological processes underlying a specific kind of pain, too. As WIRED reports, research published in the journal Brain revealed that different cells and proteins were activated in men and women with neuropathic pain—a condition that is often chronic, with symptoms including a burning or shooting sensation. While scientists say further research is needed, these findings could potentially change the way we treat conditions involving chronic pain.

A team of Texas-based neurologists and neuroscientists looked for RNA expressions in the sensory neurons of spinal tumors that had been removed from eight women and 18 men. Some of the patients had pain as a result of nerve compression, while others had not experienced any chronic pain. While studying the neurons of women with pain, researchers noticed that protein-like molecules called neuropeptides, which modulate neurons, were highly activated. For the men, immune system cells called macrophages were most active.

"This represents the first direct human evidence that pain seems to be as sex-dependent in its underlying biology in humans as we have been suggesting for a while now, based on experiments in mice," Jeffrey Mogil, a professor of pain studies at Montreal's McGill University, who was not involved in the Brain study, tells WIRED.

So what exactly do these new findings mean for sufferers of chronic pain? Considering that clinical trials and drug manufacturers have traditionally failed to distinguish between the sexes when it comes to developing pain medication, the study could potentially form a foundation for sex-specific pain therapies that could prove more effective. This might be especially promising for women, who are more likely to have some condition that cause persistent pain, such as migraines or fibromyalgia.

"I think that 10 years from now, when I look back at how papers I've published have had an impact, this one will stick out," Dr. Ted Price, a neuroscience professor and one of the paper's authors, said in a statement. "I hope by then that we are designing clinical trials better considering sex as a biological variable, and that we understand how chronic pain is driven differently in men and women."

[h/t WIRED]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER