The Importance of Cabin Air Filters in Airplanes

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Cabin air filters are commonly used in private and commercial airplanes alike. The Airbus A320 and Boeing 737, for instance, feature a pair of cabin air filters. Passengers won’t be able to see them. Nonetheless, the cabin air filters will work around the clock to create a cleaner environment inside the cabin.

What Are Cabin Air Filters?

Cabin air filters are filtration devices that are designed to remove particulate contaminants from the air inside of an airplane’s cabin. As air circulates through the cabin, it will pass through one or more cabin air filters. If the air contains any particulate contaminants — dust, dirt, pollen, dander, mold, germs, etc. — the air filter or air filters will catch it.

Why Airplanes Need Cabin Air Filters

Airplanes need cabin air filters to prevent particulate contaminants from building up and circulating inside of the cabin.

Airplanes, of course, typically have a lot of passengers packed into a relatively small space. With so many passengers in close proximity to each other, there’s an inherent risk of airborne illness. A sick passenger may spread germs to other passengers. Cabin air filters minimize the risk of transmission by removing germs from the air.

The air inside of the cabin isn’t completely fresh. Research shows that modern airplanes recirculate about half of their cabin air. In other words, only half of the cabin comes from the exterior of the airplane; the remaining half is simply recirculated.

Air filters help to clean the recirculated cabin air. Recirculated air is essentially stale air. Over time, it can become contaminated with airborne pollutants. Fortunately, airplanes are equipped with air filters to clean the recirculated cabin air.

Different Types of Cabin Air Filters

There are different types of cabin air filters. Some of them are washable. Washable cabin air filters are typically used in smaller airplanes. As their name suggests, they feature a reusable design. You can clean them by washing them with water and soap.

There are also disposable cabin air filters. Disposable cabin air filters are similar to air conditioning system filters. They are made of pleated paper in a rigid cardboard frame.

You can also find high-efficiency particulate absorbing (HEPA) cabin air filters. Like all cabin air filters, they can remove particulate contaminants from the air. But HEPA cabin air filters are able to remove smaller particulate contaminants, thus improving their ability to clean the cabin air in airplanes.

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