Flying could be bad for your health

Posted Dec 12, 2014 by Tim Sandle
Air travel is one of the safest ways to travel. However, what impact does it have on your health? What are you breathing in when you kick back and eat the free peanuts?
An airplane flies over Detroit  Michigan
An airplane flies over Detroit, Michigan
According to a review commissioned by the company BioCote Ltd. people may be carrying something nasty onto the airplane. Alternatively, otherwise health people could be breathing in or touching something undesirable that someone else has inadvertently brought on board.
One disturbing fact that the survey highlights is: "A single sneeze emanating from the middle of an airplane can spread particles over the entire cabin. The people seated next to and behind the 'sneezer' are most at risk of any potential infection.” However, sneezing into a napkin reduces the spread of viral particles considerably.
New research by the Auburn University finds that patogenic bacteria can linger on surfaces in commercial airplane cabins for up to a week. This was the outcome of a study carried out in conjunction with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Center (with support from Delta Airlines.) The main objective was to find how long Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus (the latter bacterium having some strains that are linked to MRSA) survive on commonly touched airplane cabin surfaces. The surfaces monitored included arm rests, window shades, tray tables and toilet handles.
One thing that is less likely to be a problem is the air that is recirculated in the plane. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters on most jets today can capture over ninety-nine percent of bacterial and virus-carrying particles.
Aside from the indications that many surfaces are potentially contaminated, there are things that passengers can do in order to minimize the transfer of contamination. These actions include:
Wiping down the surfaces with disinfectant wipes closest to you including the tray table, arm rest, entertainment screen and seat belt,
Avoid touching surfaces in the airplane restroom,
Avoid touching the reading material – or ensure you clean your hands afterwards,
Sanitize your hands before you eat,
Avoid touching your mouth and eyes,
Unless it’s sealed – don’t use the blankets or pillows,
Wear shoes in the cabin to avoid the germs in the carpet.
So, although it is inescapable that an area of confined space and plenty of people will harbor bacteria, measures can be taken minimize the spread of germs with proper hand hygiene.