Passenger aircraft cabin air quality: trends, effects, societal costs, proposals

Chemosphere. 2000 Aug;41(4):603-15. doi: 10.1016/s0045-6535(99)00537-8.


As aircraft operators have sought to substantially reduce propulsion fuel cost by flying at higher altitudes, the energy cost of providing adequate outside air for ventilation has increased. This has lead to a significant decrease in the amount of outside air provided to the passenger cabin, partly compensated for by recirculation of filtered cabin air. The purpose of this review paper is to assemble the available measured air quality data and some calculated estimates of the air quality for aircraft passenger cabins to highlight the trend of the last 25 years. The influence of filter efficiencies on air quality, and a few medically documented and anecdotal cases of illness transmission aboard aircraft are discussed. Cost information has been collected from the perspective of both the airlines and passengers. Suggestions for air quality improvement are given which should help to result in a net, multistakeholder savings and improved passenger comfort.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / economics
  • Aircraft*
  • Cost Savings
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Humans
  • Public Health
  • Quality Control
  • Ventilation*