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Study finds low particulate levels onboard aircraft

According to a published report from Georgia Tech Research - Commercial aircraft cabins at altitude had the lowest levels of aerosol particulates in the air compared to restaurants, stores, homes, buses or private cars, Georgia Tech researchers found in a new study measuring both particle mass and number in commercial flights and other indoor spaces. "We wanted to highlight how important it is to have a high ventilation rate and clean air supply to lower the concentration of particles in indoor spaces," said Associate Professor Nga Lee (Sally) Ng. "The in-flight cabin had the lowest particle mass and particle number concentration." Throughout this global health crisis, US airlines have multiple layers of protection to prioritize the health and wellbeing of customers and employees, including industrial-grade HEPA filters. You can read the full article online https://rh.gatech.edu/news/644903/i...aft-flight-may-have-lowest-particulate-levels

What are your thoughts? Does this ease your anxiety of traveling?
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
How come after long haul flights (10+ hours) I always end up with coughs and sniffles......
It might be something to do with how different airlines set the 'bleed air' I think it's called.
The amount of external air allowed into the cabin to 'turnover' the supply?
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2020? Looks like.... nowhere! 😁
How come after long haul flights (10+ hours) I always end up with coughs and sniffles......
Same here, even after shorter flights. I was advised by a student of mine - who’s a pharmacist - to use one of these nose sprays.... And it worked. Yeah!
In Covid times, however, flying felt to me like playing Russian roulette 😳
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
And it is a study that is paid for by Delta airlines...
Yep; that's true.

I'm far more convinced by the similar studies about air-exchange in subway cars... and I can extrapolate simply because I've been inside stripped down wide-body fuselages that were being re-outfitted for total interior upgrades. A friend was an engineer with CP-Air, and then Air Canada...

Anyway, I've seen the sheer size of the pressurization diaphragm in the tail section of a number of jets (and I've seen just how thin the fuselage walls are; titanium just blows my mind).

Those diaphragms can exchange the full cabin roughly every 2 minutes with exterior air I think.

But there's still that pesky airport.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I often get a terrible cold or virus a day or two after landing. I have been sick three times on Caminos for two full weeks each with a very painful sore throat, and gunk in my nasal passages and lungs...not fun.
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Year of past OR future Camino
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
I'm already vaccinated so I wasn't afraid to take a flight a few weeks ago. It was a flight of several hours and I was very surprised at how they packed everybody in, as usual, like sardines. Even in the boarding bridge leading to the plane, they had social distancing signs and marks on the floor. Then you get on the plane and you're touching elbows with people on either side of you. They also handed out snacks, so people were removing their masks. I'm not sure what their reasoning was. I don't care how good the air filtration might have been. Anybody sick on that plane was exposing almost everybody.
 
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Bristle Boy

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
I'm sorry but after spending the best part of thirty years monitoring systems that carried a similar function that goes on within aircraft i don't believe it.
Apart from the question of maintaining pressure and oxygen levels there is what is called a purge cycle (the time it takes to introduce and replace the air within a chamber or system).
i have never known of a system that keeps on introducing the very thing you are trying to get rid of (a virus)
i take these findings with as much credence as a well known CEO of an Irish Airline who said it was perfectly safe as when a passenger coughs it is absorbed by the seat in front.
When all this is safe to do so and everyone innoculated i will be the first to travel again until then i will be doing my best.
 
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LesBrass

Likes Walking
Year of past OR future Camino
yes...
I would always get coughs and bugs after flying but a pilgrim a few years ago gave me a great piece of advice... much like today’s COVID advice. He said the trays used at security are Petri dishes so touch them as little as possible and wash your hands thoroughly after... likewise with seats and handles and surfaces... likewise be careful with what you buy to eat and drink. I’ve followed that advice now for 7 years and it really has made a difference.

I won’t fly until I’ve had a vaccine but the advice was great 😊
 

Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
According to a published report from Georgia Tech Research - Commercial aircraft cabins at altitude had the lowest levels of aerosol particulates in the air compared to restaurants, stores, homes, buses or private cars, Georgia Tech researchers found in a new study measuring both particle mass and number in commercial flights and other indoor spaces. "We wanted to highlight how important it is to have a high ventilation rate and clean air supply to lower the concentration of particles in indoor spaces," said Associate Professor Nga Lee (Sally) Ng. "The in-flight cabin had the lowest particle mass and particle number concentration." Throughout this global health crisis, US airlines have multiple layers of protection to prioritize the health and wellbeing of customers and employees, including industrial-grade HEPA filters. You can read the full article online https://rh.gatech.edu/news/644903/i...aft-flight-may-have-lowest-particulate-levels

What are your thoughts? Does this ease your anxiety of traveling?
The heading of the OP is inaccurate. It incorrectly conflates "lowest", a comparator with "low", a relative measure.

As an example, if we were comparing temperature instead and a study found that three options (A through C) had temperatures of 98, 100 & 97. Then we could correctly say that C has the lowest temperature but unless we were using Kelvin degrees then it would not be correct to say that C had a low temperature.
 
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Doughnut NZ

From Aotearoa New Zealand
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
At best, this study obtained some sort of average level of particulates in the aircraft. The measurements were done by Delta staff and nowhere do they report on where in the aircraft the measurements were taken.

Risk of infection is related to how close someone is to a source of infection and how long they are exposed to that source.

The average level of particulates or virus is mostly irrelevant unless the average is extraordinarily high.

Sitting next to an infected person for 10-12 hours on a plane is way more risky than sitting at a reasonably spaced table in a restaurant for an hour or so.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Levant from Avila 2013
Here in Australia, we won't be flying overseas in a while. We have the country's border in total lockdown for leaving. Best to preserve our 40 + days of no local cases. Of course many from overseas are now locked in hotels to stay out their 14 days . At 83, and now a bit incapacitated, I'm unable to get to Spain anyway 😢 Never did get to do the Primitivo.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
Given that the study was funded by an airline company, perhaps a healthy degree of caution is indeed in order. Fair play to you, @Bristle Boy . I realised I need a lot of help in separating the wheat from the chaff, and bought the book of the title below. As I type, I am listening to the beginning of a video of an interview with the author. I need to stop listening as I have a piece of work to do, but I do look forward to the interview without doing something else at the same time! Some of it is certainly relevant to what is flying through the air in our times...literally, or virtually!
Screenshot 2021-03-06 at 09.49.09.png
 

Kathar1na

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
As can be seen on the website of Georgia Tech, which is a technology-focused college in Atlanta, they have a long-standing research cooperation with Delta Air Lines. Research in science and technology is cost-intensive and if governments don't fund it, someone else has to come up with the cash. Delta is mentioned seven times in the linked article, so they are not making a secret of it. And while the published research results may be used to promote a sense of safety and security in future passengers, this fact alone does not make the results worthless or implies that they are "tweaked". They are not hawking cigarettes, after all. Any airline has an interest in testing and improving the technology and processes they use.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
What are your thoughts? Does this ease your anxiety of traveling?
I feel that risk assessment is a very difficult task. Both to understand in general and to apply it to me personally. In the end, most of my decisions will be "gut" decisions. The article didn't change much for me, l had been vaguely aware of these conditions. So much so that, initially, I only read the title and the summary and comments in this thread but not the whole article ☺️. I guess I'm not the only one.☺️
 

hecate105

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
'09 Portuguese Estellas '14 Aurelia '16 St Davids '17 Via Augusta/V dl P. '18/'19 Michael Mary Way
I would not be happy to fly until properly vaccinated - but have decided not to fly again anyhow for environmental reasons - if I don't stop - how can i expect anyone else to...?
And now with Brexit - we can only go to Europe for up to 90 days in any 180 - not long enough for me to cycle to Santiago - and back again...!!
So its UK based pilgrimages for me....
 

ginniek

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
frances 2017
I have flown on Delta twice since the pandemic started, and a third trip is coming up soon. All of the trips involve at least two legs, with the second leg being the longest. The air is being recirculated more frequently than before, and the temp is kept low (bring a fleece jacket or equivalent). AS a result, the interiors are very dry, and spraying saline nasal solution, as needed, helps quite a bit. I don't know about the other airlines, but Delta is keeping the middle seat (unless a family or other group is flying together) and some aisle seats empty until April 30. Snacks are in bags or boxes. Anyhow, good flights, uncrowded waiting areas, etc. Next week will be the first time I've flown since getting my second Pfizer.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Norte and Frances Sept 6 - Oct 11, 2016
According to a published report from Georgia Tech Research - Commercial aircraft cabins at altitude had the lowest levels of aerosol particulates in the air compared to restaurants, stores, homes, buses or private cars, Georgia Tech researchers found in a new study measuring both particle mass and number in commercial flights and other indoor spaces. "We wanted to highlight how important it is to have a high ventilation rate and clean air supply to lower the concentration of particles in indoor spaces," said Associate Professor Nga Lee (Sally) Ng. "The in-flight cabin had the lowest particle mass and particle number concentration." Throughout this global health crisis, US airlines have multiple layers of protection to prioritize the health and wellbeing of customers and employees, including industrial-grade HEPA filters. You can read the full article online https://rh.gatech.edu/news/644903/i...aft-flight-may-have-lowest-particulate-levels

What are your thoughts? Does this ease your anxiety of traveling?
It’s the airports that are the problem
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
It’s the airports that are the problem
I think it's both the airports AND the aircraft that are the problem. When, and if it is deemed safe to fly, I will be wearing a mask at all times, and therefore will not be eating or drinking on the plane, even internationally.
 
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