Lonely Planet Writer

Germaphobe? This airport’s new self-cleaning security bins will fight bugs with nanotechnology

If you’ve ever gotten a cold after taking a flight, then you know that travelling is often a surefire way to pick up a bug. While there’s not much you can do about crowding next to someone on an airplane, one US airport is hoping to make your security check just a little bit cleaner.

Self-cleaning bins at Akron-Canton Airport will help germaphobes feel better as they fly. Image by Akron-Canton Airport

Akron-Canton Airport in Green, Ohio claims it is the first in the world to use a “nanotechnology solution” that uses light to clean checkpoint bins. The new project was sponsored by Western Reserve Hospital and developed by NanoTouch Materials, coming together to create mats for the bins that contain mineral nano-crystals. Those create a self-cleaning chemical reaction – said to be stronger than bleach – that can break down organic contaminants.

The hospital behind the project is providing the mats as part of a community health and safety project. They are applied like stickers to the bottoms and handles of the bins, and will hopefully keep you from picking up germs as long lines of travellers throw their belongings into the bins.

Female cabin crew walks away down aircraft cabin aisle.
Avoid the aisle seat if you want to stay healthy on your next flight. Image by Peter Bannan/Getty Images

However, a clean security bin may not protect you from germs picked up on the flight ahead. While many travellers are sure that recycled airplane air is behind their post-travel sniffles, most planes use HEPA filters to keep germs at bay. More likely, it’s whoever is sitting next to you who could be spreading all the germs. If you want to avoid getting sick on a flight, avoid the aisle seat, as research has found that it may increase your chance of falling ill since passengers will come into contact with more people’s germs.