Full statement from the FAA

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We are declining the interview request.  In the mean time, while you are waiting for the FOIA response, please accept this statement you may attribute to the FAA:

The FAA is committed to protecting the safety and health of passengers and cabin crews on our nation’s airlines. Studies have indicated that cabin air is as good as or better than the air found in offices and homes. The FAA believes that the cabin environment in the vast majority of commercial flights is safe. However, we are concerned that if certain mechanical failures occur, the cabin environment may contain contaminants. Airlines are required to report fume events to the FAA.

These events are rare considering the millions of flights in the United States each year. FAA regulations require that airplanes be designed to provide the equivalent of at least 0.55 pounds of fresh air per minute per occupant, a ventilation rate that is consistent with other public environments. Most of today’s large transport category airplane ventilation systems provide a mix of fresh air/engine bleed and recirculated airflow.  The mix is approximately 50% but usually varies depending upon the flight altitude and power settings. Airlines have the added benefit of flying at altitudes above the air pollution that is circulated into the spaces on the ground that we occupy on a daily basis. Most of the U.S. commercial airplanes use High Efficiency Particulate (HEPA) filters which remove 99.97% of particulate material. The low relative humidity in an airplane cabin may cause passengers to perceive the air quality as poor. However, lower humidity protects wiring and electronics and helps to prohibit bacterial and fungal growth.

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