April 28, 2003
Aircraft Air Is Low Risk As Source Of SARS

Air flights are not a huge source of risk for SARS infections. Aircraft use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters and take all bacteria and viruses out of the air at a very fast rate. Airplanes have better air filtering than commercial buildings.

Plane air is completely replaced with air from outside the aircraft 20 to 30 times every hour. This compares favourably against one to three times an hour in a typical building and five to seven times in a hospital operating theatre.

Granted, one could be seated on an aircraft right next to someone who has Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and that person could cough on you. But consider the odds. The vast majority of those who have SARS are on the ground at any given time. Most do not fly from one place to another before being diagnosed and hospitalized. Few SARS cases to date have been traced back to exposures that happened on aircraft.

The biggest single kind of location for passing SARS on has been in hospitals. But most hospitals do not have SARS cases and so hospitals outside of areas which have a high level of SARS cases do not pose a risk as a source of SARS infections either.

The biggest danger from air flight comes from flying to a place that has a lot of SARS cases. Well, anyone who is worried about catching SARS should avoid visiting those (primarily East Asian) locations. The biggest danger to the rest of the world for SARS comes from the fact that people can fly from SARS-infected areas while still at early undiagnosed stages of infection. The greater danger from infected air passengers comes from the possibility that they will pass SARS along while staying for days at their destinations.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2003 April 28 10:19 PM  Dangers Natural Bio

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