The TSA hasn’t ever caught a terrorist, and there’s no meaningful deterrent value either when they fail to catch over 90% of banned items being taken through checkpoints in government tests.
Longer waits to travel by air makes driving more attractive — even though it isn’t as safe. So we can attribute quite a bit of harm here. And billions of dollars each year being spent on security theater isn’t going to things that actually might keep us safe, or help peoples lives in other ways, so there’s a real cost.
It turns out there’s a health cost too, although this shouldn’t surprise anyone. The TSA makes most travelers take off their shoes, many go barefoot on germ-laden floors. And most of us assumed, I think, that they weren’t doing much to wash or sanitize bins.
Your fellow sick passengers touch the bins, they even put their dirty tissue sand handkerchiefs in them before going through the nude-o-scope. TSA employees get gloves to wear, passengers don’t.
And the bins used at security ckeckpoints the world over are likely making people sick because “half of plastic airport security bins may carry viruses that cause respiratory infections.”
The lead authors of the article, who hailed from Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare and the University of Nottingham, concluded that the screening trays “appear commonly contaminated” and that they are one of the surfaces at an airport where passengers are most likely to pick up harmful viruses.
“We found the highest frequency of respiratory viruses on plastic trays used in security check areas for depositing hand-carried luggage and personal items,” the scientists wrote in their journal article. “These boxes typically cycle with high frequency to subsequent passengers, and are typically seized with a wide palm surface area and strong grip.”
In fact, that means airports “can serve as a potential risk zone for an ’emerging pandemic threat’ — a prospect that has already become a major concern in the aftermath of the 2002 SARS outbreak and the 2014 Ebola epidemic.”
In other words they are a terrorist’s dream — and possibly a bigger threat than what airport security may be guarding against. And by the way TSA now instructs passengers to put food and snack items in these contaminated bins.
Your fellow passengers make you sick. Airline check-in kiosks can make you sick. And planes are cleaned less often than you think. We don’t need the government requiring us to come into contact with so many germs, too.
Copyright: TEA / 123RF Stock Photo
There’s self-cleaning bin technology. Since we’re unlikely to do anything to reform the TSA any time soon, the least they could do is use it.