SAE Standards Works
AC-9 Aircraft Environmental Systems Committee
AIR4766/2A - Airborne Chemicals in Aircraft Cabins
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Richard B. Fox
Airborne Chemicals in Aircraft Cabins
This SAE Aerospace Information Report (AIR) provides information on aircraft cabin air quality, including: - Airborne contaminant gases, vapors, and aerosols. - Identified potential sources. - Comfort, health and safety issues. - Airborne chemical measurement. - Regulations and standards. - Operating conditions and equipment that may cause aircraft cabin contamination by airborne chemicals (including Failure Conditions and normal Commercial Practices). - Airborne chemical control systems. It does not deal with airflow requirements.
Airborne chemicals occur in aircraft cabin air; measuring campaigns conducted since the early 1980s have identified the presence of over 300 different chemical species in cabin air. Airborne chemicals may be introduced into the cabin air from: • Outside sources, such as airport or atmospheric environment; • Engine/APU emissions from operation and from ingestion of aircraft fluids including jet fuel, hydraulic fluids, lubricants and de-icing fluids; • Airline operations such as pesticide application or maintenance activities; • In-cabin sources, such as occupant bioeffluents , cleaning products, off-gassing of furnishings materials (including flame retardants), passenger carry-on baggage contents, food and beverage items, and electrical failures; and • Aircraft systems such as Environmental Control System (ECS) components (e.g., Air Cycle Machine) and ventilation ducts/lining. Cabin air contaminant levels are normally low and safe. However, even at low concentrations, airborne chemicals may adversely affect passenger and crew comfort or health, due to potential odor, irritation, or allergen effects. Increased contamination loads from either leaks/spills or equipment wear/failure may affect occupant health and flight safety.
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