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Chapter 17 : Infectious Risks of Air Travel

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Infectious Risks of Air Travel, Page 1 of 2

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Abstract:

The air provided to passengers and crew on commercial jet aircraft is typically a combination of conditioned external (ambient) air that has been diverted to the cabin from the engine compressor stages, and air that is taken from the cabin, filtered, and recirculated. The first filter of recirculated air traps the largest particles. Then, on most modern aircrafts, the air passes through high-efficiency particular air (HEPA) filters before reentering the passenger cabin. The most efficient HEPA filters capture 99.97% of particles between 0.1 and 0.3 micrometer and 100% of the larger particles. In addition, the ultra-small contagion also gets captured by Brownian and electrostatic forces. The environmental control system is designed to minimize the introduction of harmful contaminants into the cabin and to control cabin pressure, ventilation, and temperature. Most commercial aircraft provide 10 to 15 air changes per hour of the passenger cabin depending upon the aircraft type, as the original cabin air is progressively diluted with incoming ambient air. Cabin airflow is principally side to side and compartmentalized into four- to seven-seat rows within the passenger cabin, thereby limiting longitudinal (front to back and vice versa) cabin contamination. However, although the principle is side-to-side airflow, evidence employing computational fluid dynamic modeling in a mockup full-sized aircraft cabin section suggests that airflow patterns can be influenced by many factors including seat and cabin geometry, occupancy density, and thermal loads of passengers and equipment.

Citation: Mangili A, Vindenes T, Gendreau M. 2016. Infectious Risks of Air Travel, p 333-344. In Schlossberg D (ed), Infections of Leisure, Fifth Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.IOL5-0009-2015
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Figure 1

Determinants of risk of infection within a confined space.

Citation: Mangili A, Vindenes T, Gendreau M. 2016. Infectious Risks of Air Travel, p 333-344. In Schlossberg D (ed), Infections of Leisure, Fifth Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.IOL5-0009-2015
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Image of Figure 2
Figure 2

Risk-based border screening of airline passengers during a novel-agent pandemic. Risk-based border screening of arriving passengers during a worldwide infectious outbreak involves a visual screening, brief interview, and travel history. Individuals considered to have low or no risk of being contagious are allowed access into the country with no restrictions. Individuals who do not pass the initial screen undergo more extensive evaluation, including a physical examination and testing. Individuals deemed low risk after being tested are allowed access, whereas high-risk individuals are either isolated or quarantined in addition to receiving antiviral treatment or prophylaxis.

Citation: Mangili A, Vindenes T, Gendreau M. 2016. Infectious Risks of Air Travel, p 333-344. In Schlossberg D (ed), Infections of Leisure, Fifth Edition. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.IOL5-0009-2015
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References

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