There are millions of passengers that use airlines each year inside the United States. Although there isn’t as many that travel outside the U.S., there is still a large number, in the thousands, that travel internationally. Pathogens can easily be transmitted and carried to many locations inside the U.S.
Many airlines and their passengers could easily pick up a viral contamination and spread a serious disease. The Mitre Corporation has conducted a survey that looks at particle distribution of exhaled air. They want to see how it travels inside the cabins of an airliner. They are studying to see how best to contain these articles without letting them spread. By doing this study, they believe that they can find a way to prevent airborne pathogens from spreading.
To detect harmful viruses, you would need a bio sensor with a single particle detector. A well working bio sensor takes three to four hours to detect a harmful virus. That creates a problem because, most flights don’t last that long.
Researchers also found that most particles remain airborne in the center (aisle) part of the plain. A traveller is better off sitting near a window. Vents are usually located near windows as well.
The Mitre study, inside the airplane also found that the particles didn’t travel far outside the contaminated row. If it did travel, it was usually across the center aisle. The Mitre study suggested putting bio sensors in the center of plane at the ceiling about four rows apart.
The goal is very simple. To catch a virus coming into the US before people start showing symptoms. This would buy time against a pandemic, isolate the virus, and save lots of extra expense.
The Need for sensors was first thought about during the SARS epidemic, which originated on an air flight from on Air China from Hong Kong to Beijing in 2003. The recent Swine flu scare this past April. Since that time, there has been thousands of air flights , but only one case of the Swine Flu reported.
To do the study, Mitre used seven “super spreaders”. A super spreader coughs or sneezes fifty times per hour. These seven individuals allowed for a fluid dynamic computation of saliva articles exhaled.
Researchers for Mitre also found that particles travel farther and quicker by sneezing instead of coughing..
Mitre’s final conclusion is that an ultra bio sensor needs to be developed to detect a single particle. At the present, none exist.
sources; Brittany Sauser, Technology Review , www.mitre.org