Healthy Family | Home Safety | Health and Wealth | Relationship Issues | Career Advice | Growing Family
Get the SixWise e-Newsletter FREE!
Google Web
Free Newsletter Subscription
Get the Web's Most trusted & Informative Health, Wealth, Safety & More Newsletter -- FREE!


Share Email to a Friend Print This

The Sick Truth:
Why Airline Cabin Air is NOT as Unhealthy as Your OWN Home's Air!


When you take a flight on a commercial airplane, the air you breathe is about 50 percent outside air and 50 percent filtered recirculated air. The concern many people have is that this “used” air may contain infectious agents that increase your likelihood of catching a cold, the flu or something worse, like tuberculosis.

Could it be that your home’s air is actually dirtier than the air on your last flight?

In reality, however, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco found that you are no more likely to catch a cold if you fly on a plane with recirculated air than you are on a plane with 100 percent fresh air ventilation.

“I think there’s a fairly universal feeling that flying increases your risk of getting colds and other infections, but air circulation may not be the key issue,” said John Balmes, MD, UCSF professor of medicine and chief of the division of occupational and environmental medicine at the UCSF-affiliated San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center (SFGHMC) in a UCSF press release.

“Filters used on planes with recirculated air are designed to filter out infectious particles, and they may be doing a good job.”

A very good job, indeed. In fact, Boeing reports that “the efficiency of HEPA filters [used on aircraft] to remove bacteria and viruses (.01 to .1 microns) is greater than 99 percent.”

Ironically, while you may fear getting sick on a plane, you may be more likely to get sick from the air in your very own home.

Can Your Home’s Air Make You Sick?

Your home is actually worse than an airplane cabin, air-quality wise. While it’s not exposed to the various germs of 100+ people multiple times a day, it is largely composed of recirculated air, as most air conditioners simply recycle the same stale, contaminated air over and over.

Unlike in an airplane, which draws in outdoor air and filters the recirculated air, your home’s air is simply recycled over and over. For most homes, the only time fresh air is introduced is when the windows are open, which may be next to never if it’s wintertime or you struggle with allergies.

What’s Really in Your Home’s Air?

You may be thinking that recirculating your home’s air does not sound so bad, after all it’s just you and your family there. But your home is actually much like a sealed jar filled with contaminants that have no way of escaping. As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states:

“There are many sources of indoor air pollution in any home. These include combustion sources such as oil, gas, kerosene, coal, wood, and tobacco products; building materials and furnishings as diverse as deteriorated, asbestos-containing insulation, wet or damp carpet, and cabinetry or furniture made of certain pressed wood products; products for household cleaning and maintenance, personal care, or hobbies; central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices; and outdoor sources such as radon, pesticides, and outdoor air pollution.

Some sources, such as building materials, furnishings, and household products like air fresheners, release pollutants more or less continuously. Other sources, related to activities carried out in the home, release pollutants intermittently. These include smoking, the use of unvented or malfunctioning stoves, furnaces, or space heaters, the use of solvents in cleaning and hobby activities, the use of paint strippers in redecorating activities, and the use of cleaning products and pesticides in house-keeping.

High pollutant concentrations can remain in the air for long periods after some of these activities.

If too little outdoor air enters a home, pollutants can accumulate to levels that can pose health and comfort problems. Unless they are built with special mechanical means of ventilation, homes that are designed and constructed to minimize the amount of outdoor air that can "leak" into and out of the home may have higher pollutant levels than other homes. However, because some weather conditions can drastically reduce the amount of outdoor air that enters a home, pollutants can build up even in homes that are normally considered "leaky."”

Health Effects of Stale, Recirculated Indoor Air

The health problems caused by polluted indoor air are as varied as the contaminants themselves.


For instance, according to the EPA, 30 percent to 50 percent of all structures have damp conditions that could encourage the growth and spread of biological pollutants like mold. And that's just for average climates; in warm, moist climates, this percentage is likely much higher.

When mold grows on your walls, carpets or other materials, portions of it are transferred to the indoor air you breathe. According to the EPA, this can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Allergic reactions (e.g., rhinitis and dermatitis or skin rash)
  • Asthma
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
  • Other immunologic effects


Dust, too, is actually a conglomeration of potentially toxic organic and inorganic particles that collect in your home, including human skin cells, flame retardants like polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), paint particles, cigarette smoke (and its toxic byproducts), pesticides, PCBs, rodent waste, mold spores, viruses and more.

What makes dust so dangerous is that as you walk, dust or even when you vacuum, all of these unsavory particles are circulated into the air for you to breathe in and absorb.


Your home may also be contaminated with radon, an odorless, colorless gas that can enter your home through cracks in your foundation or insulation, pipes, drains, walls, and other openings.

Radon can even be emitted from some home building materials such as the stone used to build fireplaces or solar heating storage systems.

Once in, the gas accumulates in your home's indoor air. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nearly one out of every 15 homes in the United States has radon levels at or above the EPA's recommended safety level (which is four picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L)).

Over time, sometimes many years, breathing in radon gas can damage lung tissue and lead to lung cancer. This happens because the radioactive radon particles get trapped in your lungs and break down further, releasing bursts of energy that can lead to cancer.

Radon is actually the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States (smoking is first), according to the Surgeon General, and it's thought to be responsible for 21,000 deaths every year, according to the EPA.

The only way to find out if your home has unsafe levels of radon is with a radon test. That's why the EPA and the Surgeon General recommend that all homes be tested for radon below the third floor (schools should also be tested).

The EPA-recommended Home Radon Test Kit that we offer on is an extremely easy, do-it-yourself kit that allows you to accurately test for radon in your home in just three to seven days.

Cleaning Chemicals

The very solvents you use to keep your home clean can accumulate in household dust and in the air you breathe. Many conventional cleaning products are packed with harsh cleaning chemicals such as bleach, ammonia and alcohol along with artificial colors and powerful fragrances that can release toxic fumes, causing irritation of the eyes and other chronic health problems.

For instance, did you know that using conventional cleaning sprays and air fresheners at least once a week can increase your risk of asthma by 30-50 percent? It can.

And, according to researchers from the University of California-Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, cleaning a shower stall for 15 minutes with a product containing glycol ethers, which are common in household cleaners and classified as hazardous air pollutants by the EPA, may result in exposures that are three times the recommended one-hour exposure limit.

Heart Disease, Cancer and More

Further, the EPA states, “Certain immediate effects [of indoor air pollution] are similar to those from colds or other viral diseases … Other health effects may show up either years after exposure has occurred or only after long or repeated periods of exposure.

These effects, which include some respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer, can be severely debilitating or fatal. It is prudent to try to improve the indoor air quality in your home even if symptoms are not noticeable.”

How Can You Be Sure Your Indoor Air is Clean?

Unlike most air purifiers, the PIONAIR™ Air Treatment System doesn't wait for pollutants to contact a filter or plate. Instead, the PIONAIR generates air-purifying technology that migrates through the area and neutralizes organic odors, microbes, & molds at their source.

As a result, the PIONAIR produces fresh clean air throughout your home or office uniformly, by addressing the pollutant source -- without the use of fans, filters, or plates!

pionair air filter system

People spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, so having clean air inside should be a top priority. That's why, according to leading health organizations like the American Lung Association, with the rapidly growing volume of air pollution in the home, having a high-quality air purifier is as crucial as having clean drinking water.

The challenge with most air filters or purifiers, however, is that air must be drawn to the unit, either through natural air flow, or through the use of a fan. This method results in uneven treatment and can leave pockets of polluted air, plus fans are noisy, subject to failure, and require higher levels of electricity.

The PIONAIR Smarte Pointe Air Treatment System on the other hand, which highly recommends, uses photocatalysis, which is designed to oxidize organic odors, germs, and fungi. The PIONAIR technology creates ultraviolet light rays, safe levels of ozone, and passive negative ions as part of your air treatment.

Natural air purification is performed by the UV light rays of the sun and ozone, which is produced by thunderstorms. This is why air smells so fresh after a thunderstorm. Ion generation occurs in nature from lightning and ultraviolet radiation.

The PIONAIR technology uses these natural methods by creating ultraviolet light rays, safe levels of ozone, and passive negative ions as part of your air treatment process. The other part of the process is a catalyst made from Ti02 (titanium dioxide), that when activated, generates hydroxyl radicals and super oxide ions. This system is not an air filter. It is an air purifier duplicating Nature's own methods of air cleaning and revitalization.

Ions, electrically charged particles that are positive or negative, occur naturally in nature. There is a natural balance maintained by nature, and the ratio is approximately 6 positive ions to 5 negative ions. Indoors, this ratio is off balance because of the abundance of positive ions and the lack of negative ions.

This disruption of the natural balance is primarily caused by building materials used in the structures in which we spend 90% of our time. The negative ion gives up its charge to the pollutants such as dust, pollen, bacteria, smoke, and formaldehyde. This new negative particle attracts positive particles until they become heavy enough to fall out of the air we breathe. This process is called "agglomeration." PIONAIR™ units produce negative ions, duplicating this natural process, thereby reducing these and other particles in the air.

The SMART POINTE uses the same technology as the original PIONAIR system, with the added benefit of actively generated negative ions. These actively generated negative ions clear the air of particulate FASTER than the original PIONAIR system. Therefore, the PIONAIR SMART POINTE is effective against particulate such as pollen, dust, pet dander, and smoke, AS WELL AS mold, mildew, organic odors, and chemical vapors (such as formaldehyde).

Since many allergic reactions are triggered by airborne particulate, the SMART POINTE is a perfect choice for those of you who suffer from allergies. The SMART POINTE is also an excellent choice for anyone contending with high concentrations of pollen, dust, pet dander, or smoke.

What else can you do? Since most air pollution in homes comes from sources inside the home, open your windows as much as possible. Although outdoor air can be polluted too, letting fresh air circulate around your home can help cleanse your home’s air of impurities.

SixWise Ways!
SixWise Says ...

“Pollution knows no boundaries any more than do money or information.”
--Peter F. Drucker

Recommended Reading

60% Odds Your Life is in Danger Due to Dirty Toxic Air You're Breathing

Can Air Pollution Impact Your Child’s Intelligence? Surprising New Research Revealed


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, An Introduction to Indoor Air Quality

UCSF Media Advisory July 22, 2002 FAQ

To get more information about this and other highly important topics, sign up for your free subscription to our weekly "Be Safe, Live Long & Prosper" e-newsletter.

With every issue of the free newsletter, you’ll get access to the insights, products, services, and more that can truly improve your well-being, peace of mind, and therefore your life!

Share Email to a Friend Print This