Airplane Air: ‘No Worse Than the Office You Sit in Every Day’

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  10.06.10 | 9:37 AM ET

That’s from a New York Times story about recent studies showing “that, in general, an airplane is no more a health threat to occupants than any other enclosed environment, like a theater or subway.” Dr. Mark Gendreau, an “aviation medicine expert,” explains:

Cabin air, he said, is refreshed about 15 times an hour, compared with less than 12 an hour in an office building. On most full-size jets, the air is also circulated through hospital-grade HEPA filters, which are supposed to remove 99.97 percent of bacteria and the minuscule particles that carry viruses. The cabin air is also divided into separate ventilation systems covering every seven rows or so, limiting the ability of germs to travel from one end of the plane to the other.

The story also notes a couple of caveats, like the possibility of germ-laden bathroom doorknobs or tray tables, so don’t ditch your travel-sized hand sanitizer just yet.

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

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