Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Skin oil -- ozone interactions worsen air quality in airplanes

Airline passengers and crews who gripe about poor cabin air quality could have a new culprit to blame: the oils on their skin, hair and clothing.

A study in the current issue of ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology suggests interactions between body oils and ozone found in airplane cabins could lead to the formation of chemical byproducts that might worsen nasal irritation, headaches, dry eyes and lips, and other common air traveler complaints.

In simulated flights lasting four hours, American and Danish researchers placed two groups of 16 volunteers in a mockup of an airline cabin and then exposed them to varying levels of ozone and air flow, including levels typically experienced in real flights. Consistently, ozone in the cabin increased production of identifiable chemical byproducts including nonanal and decanal, a pair of aldehyde compounds associated with headaches, nasal irritation and with other symptoms of “sick building” syndrome.

More than half of the byproducts were the result of reactions with skin, hair and clothing, according to Charles Weschler, Ph.D., the study’s lead author, who is with University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. These oxidative byproducts are produced when ozone reacts with squalene, oleic acid and other compounds in natural skin oils, he said.

“The role of these (by)products in the adverse health effects that have been associated with ozone is, at present, unknown,” Weschler said. “If these oxidation products are demonstrated to be harmful, simple steps can be taken to reduce their production in aircraft and buildings. For instance, installing ozone-destroying catalysts in airplane ventilation systems can help remove most of the ozone from incoming air, he noted.

In 2006, about 750 million people boarded commercial aircraft in the United States, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. At cruising altitude, the atmosphere outside of these aircraft contains very high ozone levels, frequently topping more than 500 parts per billion (ppb). According to FAA regulations, cabin ozone levels should not exceed 250 ppb at any time flying above 32,000 feet or average more than 100 ppb during any 4-hour flight segment that includes cruising at or above 27,000 feet.

Most wide-body planes are equipped with ozone-destroying catalysts in their ventilation systems, according to study co-author William Nazaroff, Ph.D., of the University of California, Berkeley. However, these catalysts are far less common on narrow-body aircraft. As a result, ozone in the cabin air of narrow-body planes can “exceed ozone levels in Washington, D.C., on a smoggy day,” Weschler said.

In fact, the study, which was supported by the FAA and the Danish Technical Research Council, could help scientists better understand the adverse effects of ground-level ozone, an important component of urban and regional air pollution. “Although this work was done in a simulated aircraft, the results certainly have implications beyond that,” Weschler said. “Any time you have a situation with high-occupant densities and elevated concentrations of ozone, the same kind of chemistry is going to occur.”

Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

3-D-printed magnets

26.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease

26.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

3-D-printed structures shrink when heated

26.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>