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Clearing the air on airplane cabin air

East Hills, New York (April 7, 2005) - - Fear about the safety of the air in airplane cabins heightens whenever the possibility of a new or emerging infection, such as SARS or avian (bird) flu, appears in the headlines. Each new report of an avian flu outbreak raises questions about whether airplane cabin air can transmit the virus, which some scientists predict could be the source of the next major global influenza epidemic.

"The flying public needs to be armed with the facts and informed about the risks of cabin air transmission of viruses, bacteria and fungi that can cause illness," says Joe Lundquist, an airplane air filtration technology expert at Pall Corporation (NYSE: PLL). A new study published in Lancet concluded that the risk of transmission of infectious diseases in airplanes is not as great as people perceive it to be. The risk is low, even in aircraft that recirculate air, provided that the airplane is equipped with HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters.

However, Lundquist points out that not all filters used by aircraft, even some designated HEPA, provide the highest level of microbial removal efficiency available today. In order to prevent the dissemination of infectious diseases, the filters must be able to stop microbes of all shapes and sizes on the first pass before they can be dispersed throughout the cabin.

HEPA is Not Enough

The efficiency standards for filters to be classified as HEPA can vary considerably. These standards, however, are based on chemical challenge tests, which do not simulate the removal of microorganisms and do not reflect a filter's true microbial removal efficiency. The most accurate way to determine whether a filter can remove microorganisms efficiently is with bacteria and viral challenge tests.

The reason is because of aerosol physics. Capturing a microscopic particle within a filter depends upon many interrelated factors, including particle size, shape, surface
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Contact: Marcia Katz
marcia_katz@pall.com
516-801-9128
Pall Corporation
7-Apr-2005


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