The risk of exposure to coronavirus in airplanes is very low, revealed a study by the United States Department of Defense released on Thursday (15), a positive sign for the airline industry, which tries to recover from the devastating effect of the pandemic on the travels.
When a seated passenger is wearing a mask, an average of 0.003% of the air particles within the breathing zone around a person’s head are infectious, even though all seats are occupied, according to the study.
The test assumed only one person was infected on the plane and did not simulate the effects of passenger movement through the cabin.
The study, carried out on United Airlines’ Boeing 777 and 767 aircraft, showed that the masks help to minimize exposure to infections when someone coughs, even in neighboring seats.
About 99.99% of the particles were filtered out of the cabin within six minutes due to rapid air circulation, downward air ventilation and the aircraft’s filtration systems.
“These results mean that your chances of exposure to covid on a United aircraft are almost non-existent, even if your flight is full,” said airline chief consumer services Toby Enqvist.
The study estimated that, to receive an infectious dose, a passenger would have to fly 54 hours on a plane with an infected person.
The six-month survey involved 300 tests over 38 hours of flight and 45 hours of ground testing. This was done by releasing particles of the same size as the new coronavirus throughout the cabin per section, each with 42 sensors representing other passengers who could come into contact with the particles.
Each test released 180 million particles – the number of particles that would be produced by thousands of coughs.
Study participants included the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Boeing Co, among others.