In the course of its relatively short existence, air travel has completely revolutionized the way we explore our world and interact with our global community. Despite this, it’s not without its health-related challenges. Whether you’re a frequent business traveler or an occasional holidaymaker, every time you board a plane you’re stepping into an environment that presents unique and significant health concerns. Here, we take a look at the health risks associated with air travel and explore how personal air purifiers can help manage some of them.
Sit up and listen: Noise-induced hearing loss is a serious matter
Air travel presents multiple different health risks, from the air you breathe to the sounds you hear. Especially with longer flights, the constant drone of an aircraft’s engines can result in prolonged exposure to potentially harmful noise levels. According to America’s National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), prolonged exposure to noise levels at or above 85 decibels can lead to hearing loss. If you’re worried about this as a passenger, spare a thought for airline crew, for whom repeated exposure over the years only increases the danger.
Cosmic radiation: A high-altitude risk
When cruising at high altitudes, especially on long-haul flights over the poles, passengers and crew are exposed to increased levels of cosmic radiation. That’s because this ionizing radiation, which originates in outer space, is more intense at high altitudes and latitudes – and a study published in the Space Weather journal has shown that during solar storms, it can reach levels that are harmful to humans. Over time, frequent exposure can increase the risk of cancer and other health issues, especially for airline crew who fly much more often than most of us.
Air quality in airports and airplanes
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), aircraft cabins can house a variety of pollutants. These can emanate from engine emissions, anti-icing fluids and even materials within the aircraft itself. In addition to these dangers, aircraft can also be breeding grounds for biological contaminants due to their enclosed nature – and if there’s an infected passenger onboard, the risk of transmitting a disease is only amplified. Airports meanwhile, with their vast structures and dense crowds, present their own air quality concerns. The bustling movement of passengers, close proximity of the seating and air movement caused by the air conditioning systems can all play their part in helping pathogens to circulate.
The reality of airborne diseases and air travel
Airborne diseases spread when tiny pathogens hitch a ride on dust or respiratory droplets, especially when an infected person sneezes or coughs. The confined space on board aircraft makes the transmission of these diseases more likely; a study in the Journal of Travel Medicine indicated that the risk of contracting a respiratory infection, including the common cold, increases during air travel. More alarmingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlighted several instances of more severe airborne diseases, such as tuberculosis and influenza, being transmitted during flights.
The plight of the frequent flyer
For those who find themselves riding the skies more often, the health challenges outlined above are magnified as the sheer amount of time spent transitioning between airports and planes increases their exposure to pathogens. Coupled with the rigors of constant travel, like stress and disrupted sleep patterns, their immune systems might not always be at their peak, posing a very real danger to their health.
Where do wearable air purifiers come in?
Given the health challenges posed by being airborne, personal air purifiers like Respiray Wear A+ are emerging as a beacon of hope. While face masks are a widely recognized protective measure by now, they might not be the most comfortable choice, especially on longer flights, and if used incorrectly or for too long they can actually harbor bacteria and other pathogens.
Wearable air purifier necklaces, which provide a more effective barrier to users’ breathable air than many other non-intrusive options, stand out as a promising alternative. By generating a sphere of clean air surrounding the wearer’s airways, they can significantly reduce exposure to harmful airborne particles and pathogens.
Breathe safely, even when you’re in the air
While air travel offers unparalleled convenience and opportunities for exploration, it’s vital that we are cognizant of the health risks associated with it – and this awareness becomes even more essential for frequent travelers. Innovations like wearable air purifiers, including Respiray’s very own Wear A+, provide a glimpse into how technology can make our journeys safer and more comfortable.