Air Quality Inside Airplanes Needs More Scrutiny

December 12, 2001


Is the air inside airplane cabins unhealthful? Acknowledging decades of complaints, the National Research Council says in a Dec. 6, 2001, report that the Federal Aviation Administration should undertake rigorous research to better identify problems and solutions: "The Airliner Cabin Environment and the Health of Passengers and Crew."

The NRC committee says contaminants that may put pilots, flight attendants, and passengers at risk include hydraulic fluids, de-icing solutions, pesticides, maintenance products, and infectious substances. The committee also called for review of ventilation standards and allowable oxygen levels, and monitoring of ozone levels inside airplanes. NRC media, Bill Kearney, 202-334-2138.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which sponsored the report requested by Congress, says it has just begun to review it, and has not yet determined what action, if any, it will take. FAA media: Alison Duquette, 202-267-8674.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers has been working on the issue for years, and may have its first public review of proposed standards during its June 22-26, 2002, meeting in Hawaii. ASHRAE media: Jodi DunlopNews Release.

U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the Aircraft Clean Air Act on June 12, 2001 (search for S. 1019). Media office, Howard Gantman, 202-624-5285, Release.

In the House, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced similar legislation, HR 2158. Media office, Eric Schmeltzer, 202-225-5635.