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Evaluating airplane cabin environment health effects

Effects of various cabin environmental parameters are largely unknown and yet of particular importance for passengers on commercial aircraft. EU-funded scientists evaluated numerous subjects in flight simulations, concluding that flying poses no health risk.
Evaluating airplane cabin environment health effects
Potential detrimental health effects of exposure to certain environments such as those related to cell phone use, wireless networks and even airline travel are gaining increasing interest.

Longer flights, more frequent travel, increased crew workloads and specific health issues such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) issue make identifying optimal cabin environmental parameters particularly relevant.

Previous studies have been relatively fragmented. In addition, cabin pressure, hypoxia and their possible relation to DVT have been ignored.

European researchers set out to develop predictive models for use by airframe and aircraft manufacturers enabling them to consider passenger profiles, crew workloads and flight characteristics to achieve optimal cabin parameters. EU-funding of the ‘Ideal cabin environment’ (ICE) project enabled them to pursue their goals.

The ICE consortium carried out simulation tests of long-haul flights with realistic cabin conditions. They administered questionnaires to ‘passengers’ and collected medical data (blood pressure measurements and blood for testing) from volunteers covering a gamma of age and medical state as well as both genders.

Scientists made recommendations for optimal cabin pressure and temperature ranges as well as for humidity ranges and ventilation rates. The most important finding overall was that flying in current commercial aircraft poses no significant health risk to passengers.

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