The risk of exposure to coronavirus in aircraft is very low, according to a survey commissioned by the United States Department of Defense (DOD) released on Thursday (15).
According to the study data, the overall risk of exposure to covid-19 during a flight, in addition to being very low, can be considered “virtually nonexistent” if you are wearing a mask.
The research explains that when a seated passenger is wearing a mask, only an average of 0.003% of the air particles within the breathing zone around his or her head are infectious, even though all seats are occupied.
This means that if a single passenger on a Boeing 767 or 777 flight is infected, it would take about 54 hours for others on board to receive an infectious dose of the virus.
How was the research done?
Conducted aboard United Airlines’ Boeing 777 and 767 aircraft, the study was conducted over eight days at the end of August, and carried out by Zeteo Tech, S3i, a DOD agency, and by the National Institute for Strategic Research of the University of Nebraska.
The researchers tested the infiltration of air particles in different cabin classes of the two types of aircraft that are the models most used by the DOD Transport Command unit to transport military personnel and their families.
About 99.99% of the particles were directed out of the cabin within six minutes due to the rapid circulation of air and ventilation that occurs from top to bottom after passing through the aircraft’s air filters. Inside a common home, say the researchers, that time would be 90 minutes.
Despite the positive and promising result for airlines, the researchers warn that the test was limited, as it was based solely on the hypothesis of an infected passenger, and did not consider several passengers moving around the cabin.