[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
If you’re a fan of bad movies, and even if you’re not, you might remember the summer thriller Snakes on a Plane. In it, gangsters attempt to take down a plane by stuffing the cargo hold with angry venomous snakes. The movie probably didn’t make you fear getting bitten by a cobra on your next cross-country flight. But I’ll bet there is a critter you don’t want to encounter in coach. A creature so insidious that even shoving Neosporin up your nose won’t save you. I’m talking about germs.
Admit it. When that guy four rows ahead of you starts hacking, you can almost see the viruses wafting your way. But a study published in the March issue of the Annals of Industrial Hygiene suggests that you needn’t fear the microbes on your next flight. The scientists took air samples from a dozen planes at various times during flight. They found bacteria were most plentiful during boarding and deplaning. But the bugs they detected were mostly those found on the skin or in dust or outdoor air, probably stirred up by people moving around, getting in and out of their seats. So relax, take off your surgical mask and enjoy the in-flight movie. Unless, of course, it’s Snakes on a Plane.