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Coast To Coast

Coast To Coast

Hilgendorf's Healthful Hints
Thursday, December 15, 2011

By Jane Hillgendorf
Dean Emeritus, PE & Athletics

December Is National Handwashing Awareness Week

Cabin air in commercial aircraft is no more likely to spread colds and other infections than the air in similar crowded, enclosed spaces, according to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. People often blame poor ventilation, especially the recirculation of cabin air, but the air is refreshed and filtered many times every hour (much less so, however, when planes are waiting on the tarmac). Simple human proximity is the real culprit: passengers get sick on planes by sitting near people who are sneezing or coughing. For colds, hand-to-hand contact via contaminated objects is also a risk. Thus, frequent flyers should be frequent hand washers, or use hand sanitizers.