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Indoor Air. 2001 Sep;11(3):200-14.

Low relative humidity and aircraft cabin air quality.

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ENERGEN Consulting, Inc., 19900 Wild Cherry Lane, Germantown, Maryland 20874, USA.


Mucosal irritation remains a common complaint among travelers and flight attendants in aircraft cabins. Despite the fact that very low humidity is routinely encountered, few studies of its effects have been conducted in the cabin environment. The authors reviewed chamber and field studies in the experimental literature to explore whether there is an association and, if so, at what level it was likely to be present. Subjects who participated in prior research were not always able to perceive low humidity or changes in the humidity level and, at times, this inability has been confused in the literature with the lack of a humidity effect. The studies with more powerful experimental designs have demonstrated the effects of low humidity, such as drying of the skin and mucus membranes, and that a modest increase in relative humidity seems to alleviate a great number of symptoms. The exposure duration below during which the effects of low humidity are not noticeable is in the order of 3 to 4 h. It is conceivable that some symptoms experienced by flight attendants and passengers, especially on flights lasting 3 h or longer, may stem from low humidity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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