The air quality in commercial aircraft is a real problem for both travelers and airline employees. The National Research Council found evidence suggesting that air circulating in passenger cabins may contribute to a wide variety of health problems. Among the hazards noted: overexposure to ozone levels, inadequate oxygen pressure and air contaminated with traces of engine oil, hydraulic fluid, de-icing solutions and even pesticides (sprayed on international flights). Interestingly, due to the high level of air filtration on flights, viral circulation is one of the lowest concerns. There have been no significant viral transmission events connected to air travel.
To address these concerns, consider:
- Traveling with a portable personal air purifier (check with the flight crew before using any portable electronic device while in flight).
- Wear a mask. While required now on all flights, be sure to find something that is comfortable to allow you to wear it the entire flight and do less touching and manipulating of it.
- Avoiding alcohol and OTC meds like acetaminophen during flights to reduce the liver’s toxic burden.
- Drinking plenty of filtered waterto help flush out toxins. It’s best to carry your own stainless-steel water bottle and utilize the fill stations located at many airports now.
- Taking an herbal supplement that supports immune health such as elderberry, echinaceaor astragalus, and consider supporting your liver with milk thistle before you get on the plane. Also, particularly important during this pandemic if you are going to be around other is make sure your vitamin D levels are adequate. Studies are showing a clear benefit to having your 25-hydroxyvitamin D level above 30. Work with your doctor to measure and dose properly.
Today’s Health Topics
Ask Dr. Weil's Q&A