New Study: Aircraft Ventilation Systems Do Not Spread Viruses


According to a new study by the United States Department of Defense, the chances of the coronavirus being spread on airplanes are small. The research was published last Thursday. The results support previous research showing that aircraft ventilation systems efficiently filter the air and remove particles that can transmit viruses.

The study was not peer-reviewed, CNN reports. It also did not take into account other ways in which people could contract the virus on planes, for example through coughing, contamination from surfaces or closed spaces such as toilets.

To simulate the effects of a fully loaded passenger flight, the study tested Boeing 777-200 and 767-300 aircraft full of sensors. A doll wearing a surgical mask simulated a coughing passenger infected with a respiratory virus.

The researchers used fluorescent aerosol tracers to see where the particles emitted by the coughing ‘passenger’ spread. These particles were quickly sucked into the ventilation system, it was concluded.

The research team did provide a side note: “During testing, it is assumed that face masks are worn continuously and the potential number of people infected is low. Contamination of surfaces via non-aerosol routes (large droplets or facial contamination) is more likely in restrooms and other communal areas and is not tested in this study. “

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