Briefs: Doubt on the air quality in airplanes

The Committee on Toxicity, an independent group of experts consulted by the British government estimated that 1% of all daily passenger air flights were affected by smoke incidents in the cabin, and airlines acknowledge 0.05%. in the United States alone, this represents 280 and 14 flights a day. In most airplane air-conditioning systems, outdoor air is mixed with cabin air after passing through the compressors and engines. When oil leaks occur, incoming air may contain harmful substances such as tricresyl phosphate, despite filters which are relatively inefficient against such substances. This can even sometimes lead to emergency landings, such as on July 30 during an Air France Airbus flight from Paris to Douala (Cameroon). However, confirming the existence of such risks is difficult, because of the lack of sensors. ASHRAE, who published the main study on the issue, recommends using them and launching new standards. Most criticism concerns air renewal in the cabin. Since the early 1990s, only half the inside air has an external source, the rest having been recycled, in order to save fuel. Such new systems are claimed to make some passengers unwell. According to a recent Harvard study, the CO2 levels has doubled and the dryness of the air may cause phlebitis, a potential source of pulmonary embolism or even heart failure.