Q: I just heard about a new report that says airliners are flying health hazards. What's the real deal?
MAX F., Sacramento, Calif.
A: It's reportedly the inside scoop from flight attendants, who have helped protect the public and themselves from serious health hazards in the past.
1. On board, avoid drinking any liquid that doesn't come from a bottle or a can, or bring your own water, coffee or tea. In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency sampled the water supply in 327 airplanes; E. coli was found in about 10 percent of them. As a result the EPA now requires airlines to test for coliform and E. coli bacteria at least once a year.
2. Super-flush toilets can spew germs and in-flight usage can create unsanitary conditions, even if the bathrooms started out clean. Best advice: Avoid surfaces, and don't wash your hands in the water; use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
3. Blankets and pillows come in plastic wraps and give the impression they're newly dry-cleaned. Not necessarily. It's smarter to bring your own jacket or blanket for warmth, and travel pillows fit easily in carry-ons.
4. Keep food off tray-table surfaces; they're rarely sanitized and serve as everything from baby-changing stations to, well, you get the idea. Clean with alcohol wipes.
5. Don't reach inside seat pockets where bacteria and viruses are feasting on last week's leftovers. If you do reach in to read the safety card or retrieve a magazine, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer afterward.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.