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Health Agencies Update
January 16, 2002

Aircraft Air Quality Concern

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JAMA. 2002;287(3):308. doi:10.1001/jama.287.3.308-JHA10014-4-1

Concern about air quality inside aircraft has prompted the National Research Council (NRC) to ask for detailed studies on potential health risks from high levels of ozone, reduced oxygen pressure, and slow ventilation—all common aboard typical flights. In addition, traces of engine oil, hydraulic fluid, deicing solutions, and whiffs of pesticides, routinely sprayed on international flights, may pose additional risks, according to the NRC report.

Because few data for passengers and crew exist, it is "extremely difficult to establish a causal relationship between poor air quality on planes and adverse health effects," the report says. It calls for the Federal Aviation Administration to enforce current regulations for ozone and study the feasibility of installing equipment to remove noxious vapors.