Aircrew Safety & Health – Cabin Air Quality
What you need to know
Potential cabin air hazards may include:
- Ventilation hazards, including carbon monoxide, ozone, and carbon dioxide levels
- Pesticide exposures on certain flights
- Transmission of communicable diseases from sick passengers
- Cabin altitude and pressurization changes
- Air contamination events, when cabin air becomes contaminated with breakdown products from heated engine oil or hydraulic fluid
Here you can learn more about cabin air quality and how you can lower your exposure to potential cabin air hazards.
What is not known
We don’t know what causes most health problems that could be linked to cabin air. If you are exposed to a potential cabin air hazard and have health problems, it may not be possible to tell if it was caused by your work conditions or if it was caused by something else.
We don’t know what levels of potential hazards in cabin air are safe for every person.
What you can do to reduce exposure to hazards in cabin air
Be aware of your company’s procedures for dealing with these exposures. Here are some ways to reduce your exposure:
- Reduce exposure to communicable diseases by washing or sanitizing your hands often. Wash after serving food or beverages to passengers, helping them with their baggage, and before eating. Learn more about how to reduce exposure to communicable diseases on aircraft.
- Pesticides are sometimes used on the inside of airplanes on certain flights. Learn more about pesticide exposure.
- Follow up with your doctor if you have concerns about these exposures. Make sure your doctor knows that you work as a crewmember. Sharing this and other information with your doctor may be useful. You or your doctor may also contact us for more information.
For more information
- The Association of Flight Attendants: Aircraft Air Quality
- CDC’s Travelers’ Yellow Book: Chapter 8 Travel by Land, Air, and Sea
- Assessing total fungal concentrations on commercial passenger aircraft using mixed-effects modeling (2008)
- Monitoring microbial populations on wide-body commercial passenger aircraft (2008)
- Evaluating fungal populations by genera/species on wide body commercial passenger aircraft and in airport terminals (2007)
- Evaluation of airborne culturable fungal concentrations on wide-body commercial passenger aircraft (2005)
- Numerical simulation of airflow and airborne pathogen transport in aircraft cabins – part I: numerical simulation of the flow field (2005)
- Numerical simulation of airflow and airborne pathogen transport in aircraft cabins – part II: numerical simulation of airborne pathogen transport (2005)
- Characterization of endotoxin and 3-hydroxy fatty acid levels in air and settled dust in commercial aircraft cabins (2003)
- Health Hazard Evaluation Report: HETA-2003-0364-3012, Mesaba Airlines, Inc., Minneapolis, MN (2003)
- Prevalence of respiratory symptoms among female flight attendants and teachers (2002)
- Measurements of indoor air quality on commercial transport aircraft (2002)
- Carbon dioxide levels, relative humidity, and temperature and flight factors in commercial aircraft cabins (2000)
- If you have safety and health questions about your job contact us.