Air In Planes, Trains And Automobiles

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Recent Blog Entries From Dr. Dave Hnida


Forget the pat-downs for a second, and think about what you really worry about when you get on a plane. Surveys show for most of us, germs are the number one concern- you know, from that guy a few rows back who is hacking his guts out or the person with a case of “Niagara Falls nose” in the seat in front of you. Theyre more of a risk- odds wise- compared to someone who tries to set his underwear on fire on your holiday flight (which is obviously less likely these days thanks to the good hands people at TSA)

So. lets shoot the breeze on airplane air. Its actually safer than you think. In fact working in an office building is definitely more germ filled than an airplane since the air in a plane is recirculated and filtered 20 times an hour while an office is cleansed only 10-12 times an hour.

Plus airplane air is better than what you’ll suck in on trains, buses, automobiles, and practically anything but an open air ox cart.

Other tidbits:

The air in a plane is freshest in the front.

Early boarding will deliver a dose of dirtier air than a last minute hop-on. Thats because air doesnt circulate as much when the plane in on the ground. Heaven forbid sitting out on that taxiway.

99% of germs will get removed by special filters on the plane- the filters block bacteria, as well as the droplets that transport small virus particles.

And dont worry too much about the cougher in row 28. The air is a plane isn’t circulated front to back or vice versa. Its transverse,meaning side to side. So the person in the row across from you is more of a threat for direct transmission than someone rows ahead or behind. In fact, the estimates for “seat row worries” are probably only two in front and two behind— and once again its the two rows ahead and behind on the sides of you.

Bottom line, take a breath. The air is not as bad as it seems. But that doesn’t mean illness isnt lurking out there ready to strike. Next blog- what you really need to bring and do to have a healthy flight.

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