ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Airlines Look to Recommended Practices for Disinfection and SARS Protection


New York, Apr 18, 2003

The recent outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) has drastically affected travel and tourism in Southeast Asia, most notably in the air travel industry. As concern about the disease is felt around the world, the public is asking the air transport industry what kinds of precautions are carried out to protect the health and safety of passengers and crew.

An April 14, 2003 New York Times article cited claims from airline officials that the typical cleaning methods currently employed were capable of ridding an aircraft of an unknown respiratory illness. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the industry’s largest trade association, supports this claim. According to IATA, airlines are experienced in dealing with health issues, including infectious diseases, and have standards to guide the process of cleaning and disinfecting in the wake of SARS. The standards, known as Recommended Practice 1798, Carriage of Passengers with Infectious Diseases, include screening passengers at check-in gates for symptoms of the disease, distributing masks and gloves to airline personnel and passengers, and disinfecting aircraft on which SARS-infected passengers have traveled.

For the first time, ANSI member the Boeing Corporation – the world's largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners, satellites, and military aircraft – has recommended a disinfectant product to its customers. EcoTru® , which was used to disinfect cruise ships during the outbreak of the Norwalk virus earlier this year, is not guaranteed to kill the SARS virus, but may stop its spread. Boeing did not recommend commonly used chlorine-based disinfectants, as these products pose a potential risk for immediate and future corrosion of airplane metallic structures.

ANSI member and accredited standards developer ASTM International maintains several standards that provide test methods to gauge the effects of cleaners on aircraft surfaces. ASTM F2109-01, Standard Test Method to Determine Color Change and Staining Caused by Aircraft Maintenance Chemicals upon Aircraft Cabin Interior Hard Surfaces, specifically covers the determination of color change and staining from cleaning or disinfecting chemicals on painted metallic surfaces and nonmetallic surfaces of materials being used inside the aircraft cabin.

In the case of SARS, the air transport industry is doing everything in its power to minimize risks, implementing guidelines and specific measures as required by local, national and international health authorities. IATA lists additional measures put in place by the airlines when needed that include:

    · Cooperation with health authorities at departure & arrival points
    · Special training for staff
    · Screening passengers at check-in for SARS symptoms
    · Surveillance of passengers during the flight for symptoms
    · Provision of masks and gloves
    · Procedures for cabin crew and maintenance teams
    · Disinfecting procedures for aircraft

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