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Tuesday, 26 April 2005 13:20
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Aircrafts starve passengers of oxygen
Air-travel reduces oxygen in the bloodstream to levels that could put passengers in danger, a study has found.

Researchers from Belfast studied 84 passengers between the ages of 1 and 78. They measured pulse rates and peripheral oxygen saturation the amount of oxygen in the blood.

At ground level, passengers were found to have average oxygen levels of 97 per cent. However, this dropped to 93 per cent during flight.

In total, 54 per cent of passengers had blood oxygen levels of 94 per cent or less at cruising altitude.

In hospitals, a patient at this level would be given supplemental oxygen to help recovery.

The results, published in the journal Anaesthesia, were similar in both long and short haul flights.

Poor air quality and ventilation in aircrafts has been attributed to cost cutting introduced by airlines as competition has increased. At the same time, modern aircraft are able to cruise at much higher altitudes, intensifying the problem.

Farrol Kahn of the Aviation Health Institute said some airlines cut ventilation to save fuel. By making passengers sleepy, savings are also made on onboard services.

Oxygen deficiency can cause breathing problems and impaired mental performance. It can also aggravate pre-existing conditions such as angina and bronchitis.


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