Friday, October 10, 2008

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and Stuffy Air

SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the sudden death of an otherwise healthy infant that can't be attributed to any other cause. These babies may have brain abnormalities that prevent them from gasping and waking when they don't get enough oxygen. SIDS remains the leading cause of death in infants ages 1 month to 1 year. Now a new study published in the October Issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, has looked at the issue of what is commonly known as ‘stuffy air. This study found that fan use was associated with a 72 percent lower risk of SIDS. Only 3 percent of the babies who died had a fan on in the room during their last sleep, the mothers reported. That compared to 12 percent of the babies who lived.

Stuffy air in aircraft passenger cabins is a common problem but its impacts on passenger and crew health, where coincidentally the lower cabin air pressure contributes to decreased blood oxygen content while flying versus normal on-the-ground levels, are not known.

Why is stuffy air common in passenger cabins? It is due to the crowding of many people in a small space, and the low air circulation rates being provided (circulation rates are one-sixth those in offices, for example). While turning on overhead gaspers or personal air outlets will improve the air circulation and help eliminate stuffiness, the high velocity gasper air stream will coincidently entrain air-borne germs emanating from nearby persons and bring them to the breathing zone. Furthering disease spread opportunities while flying is obviously not a good idea! It is particularly worrisome when you realize that your neighbours on the plane could be from another city or even another country and could well be expiring germs to which you and your children have not developed an immunity.

This gasper air stream pathogen-entrainment concern will be remedied by a new device soon to be available. With it, turning on your overhead gasper will be a way for improving the quality of the air surrounding you and eliminating ‘stuffyair. Known as the Personal Environment Airflow Controller or PEACE, this device will modify gasper air flows so as to filter and supply the air currently being entrained unfiltered by your gasper. With the PEACE device add-on, a gasper outlet will become your personal on-board air cleaner and air circulation device to turn on, regulate and direct. If you want to know more about the PEACE technology, please fill out the VEFT Aerospace Inquiry Form.

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