Fecal Matter in Bins at Security Checkpoints? Yeah, I Believe It — So What?!?

I t comes as no surprise to me that there is a presence of dangerous bacteria — including evidence of fecal matter — in the bins used at airport security checkpoints, as reported in this article at the Road Warriorette weblog:

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 have found security checkpoints at airports to be downright filthy, whether referring to the bins, floors — or anything else, for that matter.

In fact, I treat public places such as airport security checkpoints the way I treated the subway system in New York City, which I used regularly for nine years when it was at its absolute worst: the sour stench of urine permeating some of the stations; used gum stuck in any place other than the trash bin; and tan train car floors which became grayish-black from not being cleaned.

Every time I arrived home after being on the subway, the first thing I did was remove my shoes at the door, wash my hands, and then change my clothes. After all, I did not want any of that stuff in my home…

…well, my home was typically messy with piles of stuff in which I had a filing procedure where whatever was on top was newer than what was on the bottom — and you might be amazed how well that invaluable “system” of perceived disarray worked for me — but I digress, as usual: my home was clean.

Anyway, I find articles such as this one from the TODAY show back on June 24, 2014 — to which the Road Warriorette referred — to be ludicrous at best. Here are the reasons why:

You have probably read numerous times my professions on how important it is to wash your hands properly to avoid from getting sick — the most recent time here in this article — and that has worked wonders for me:

  • Perhaps I may be obsessive, but I always wash my hands when I touch someone or something about which I am uncertain as to whether or not it — or he or she — is clean. The extra time spent washing your hands can save you from much more down time while suffering from less than good health. That is an investment of my time on which I receive an excellent return.
  • Someone once commented to me upon observing me that I wash my hands similar to a doctor. This means washing every part of my hands in warm water from the wrists to the fingertips and scraping underneath each fingernail thoroughly for at least 30 seconds — long after a lather of suds has been built up on my hands.
  • Before I begin washing, I use a paper towel to turn on the faucet, pump the soap and turn off the faucet when I am done, as well as open the door to exit so that I do not come into contact with germs and contaminate myself — and, contrary to popular belief, it does not matter whether or not the soap is of the antibacterial variety.
  • If the soap is a solid bar rather than in liquid form, I wash the exterior of the soap several times before I use it to wash myself.
  • I tend to occasionally rub my eyes, which could potentially be a recipe for disaster if my hands are contaminated. However, once I touch something unknown to be contaminated, I will either hold off on rubbing my eyes or employ a portion of my body to do so instead — such as the back of one of my fingers, or my arm.
  • Because the hands are the most likely body parts to be contaminated by germs — other than bare feet, that is — they require more care than other parts of your body, such as your forehead, your neck or your face. However, those body parts should be clean as well. Especially keep contamination away from your eyes, ears and nose, as they are amongst the most susceptible parts of your body to microorganisms which cause infections and illnesses.

 

I speak from experience when I say that washing my hands regularly is amongst the best ways to prevent the spread of diseases, infections, and even illnesses such as the common cold. Aside from one or two minor exceptions that are too negligible to even mention, I have not suffered from a cold, fever or other illness in several years since I adopted the aforementioned habits. I take absolutely no medications of any kind — not even aspirin — because I simply have no need to do so. I have never even had a flu shot; and yet I had not contracted the flu in years. That is because I am diligent about washing my hands…

…so you might think that I automatically have followed the advice of the Road Warriorette to carry disinfectant wipes with me wherever I go.

Wrong.

I have never carried disinfectant wipes with me anywhere I have ever traveled in my entire life — and I do not ever intend to do so.

Why?

First of all — although I do not encourage testing it or pushing it — the immune systems in our bodies are naturally designed to fight bad bacteria and germs; and it usually does a good job of that…

…but more importantly, you increase your chances for illness when you touch sensitive areas around your body — such as your eyes when you rub them, your mouth, your nose or your ears as examples — with hands which have not been properly washed.

I have trained myself to automatically get into the habit that once I touch anything that is the least bit suspect, I avoid touching sensitive parts of my body — such as my head and face — until I wash them well.

Does this mean that I am obsessive? I do not believe so.

I still handle such items as garbage with my bare hands — although whenever possible, I will use clean paper towels to flush a public toilet or open the door to exit a public washroom after just having washed my hands. Except in egregiously filthy situations — such as helping to clean out a house which was flooded by Hurricane Katrina back on August 28, 2005 — I never wear any kind of gloves for protection…

…and if I touch something which could be laden with germs, I do not go running in a panic searching for a way to wash them immediately. As I said: as long as I do not touch sensitive parts of my body — or consume food — with my unwashed hands, I will not get sick.

However, I do wear those little blue booties on my feet whenever I pass through an airport security checkpoint — and even though they are disposable, I do reuse them. The bottoms are soiled from walking on many airport security checkpoint floors — but I keep them in a little zippered plastic bag to prevent them from contaminating my belongings in my bag.

In fact, bags — such as laundry bags found in hotel rooms — play a critical role in separating the clean items in my bag from the dirty stuff…

…and for these reasons and more, I really do not care just how dirty are those bins at airport security checkpoints. Without reaching the point of obsession, I try to be smart about keeping clean and not exposing myself to potential illness — and it has worked well for me over the years.

It can work for you, too — and adopting those habits is easier than you think…

2 thoughts on “Fecal Matter in Bins at Security Checkpoints? Yeah, I Believe It — So What?!?”

  1. Brandon says:

    This is so convenient. Normally, after I’m done reading travel websites, I research fecal matter. This was a one stop shop today for me. Thanks for the time savings 😉

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I smiled at your comment, Brandon. Thank you.

      I promise you that I do not have an obsession with fecal matter — despite a certain discussion on FlyerTalk which purports to claim otherwise.

      Fecal matter is certainly not the first thought in my mind — nor is it Number Two…

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