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Environ Sci Technol. 2008 Jun 1;42(11):3938-43.

Ozone levels in passenger cabins of commercial aircraft on North American and transoceanic routes.

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Civil & Environmental Engineering Department, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720-1710, USA.

Erratum in

  • Environ Sci Technol. 2012 Feb 7;46(3):1952.


Ozone levels in airplane cabins, and factors that influence them, were studied on northern hemisphere commercial passenger flights on domestic U.S., transatlantic, and transpacific routes. Real-time data from 76 flights were collected in 2006--2007 with a battery-powered UV photometric monitor. Sample mean ozone level, peak-hour ozone level, and flight-integrated ozone exposures were highly variable across domestic segments (N = 68), with ranges of < 1.5 to 146 parts per billion by volume (ppbv), 3--275 ppbv, and < 1.5 to 488 ppbv-hour, respectively. On planes equipped with ozone catalysts, the mean peak-hour ozone level (4.7 ppbv, N = 22)was substantially lower than on planes not equipped with catalysts (47 ppbv, N = 46). Peak-hour ozone levels on eight transoceanic flight segments, all on planes equipped with ozone catalysts, were in the range < 1.5 to 65 [corrected] ppbv. Seasonal variation on domestic routes without converters is reasonably modeled by a sinusoidal curve that predicts peak-hour levels to be approximately 70 ppbv higher in Feb--March than in Aug--Sept The temporal trend is broadly consistent with expectations, given the seasonal cycle in tropopause height. Episodically elevated (>100 ppbv) ozone levels on domestic flights were associated with winter-spring storms that are linked to enhanced exchange between the lower stratosphere and the upper troposphere.

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