ASHRAE Publishes First Airplane Cabin Air Quality Standard

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers has published a new standard (161-2007, Air Quality Within Commercial Aircraft) that addresses air cabin air quality. ASHRAE said the standard--which covers issues such as temperature, cabin pressure, air contaminants, and ventilation rates--can be voluntarily adopted by individual airlines or the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), or advocated for by airline passenger and employee groups.

"Compliance with this standard will go a long ways toward ensuring good air quality for passengers and crews," said Byron Jones, chair of the committee that wrote the standard. "Aircraft passengers and crew make up a wide cross-section of the general population, ranging from the very young to the very old, from the healthy to infirm. And unlike many other indoor environments, occupants do not have the ability to remove themselves from the environment, which is at a lower pressure and relative humidity than that found in many other environments. Standard 161 will help create a healthier, more enjoyable ride for the great variety of passengers on board."

Also addressed in the standard are chemical, physical, and biological contaminants that could affect air quality as well. Methods of testing are provided for ensuring compliance with the standard's requirements.

The standard applies to commercial passenger air-carrier aircraft carrying 20 or more passengers and is intended to apply to all phases of flight operations and to ground operations when the aircraft is occupied by passengers or crew members.

The cost of the standard is $54 ($43 for members). For more information, visit www.ashrae.org/bookstore.

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