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Delta’s Fogging Some Jets for Coronavirus – Is This Safe for Crew and Passengers?

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Delta Air Lines says it’s using fogging as one process to help battle coronavirus. But what is fogging? And is it safe for everyone?

What Delta is Doing to Keep Planes As Sanitary as Possible

The airline wrote that its “aircraft cleaning teams are trained to meet Delta’s high cleanliness standards to provide our customers with a safe and comfortable onboard experience. Delta uses a high-grade, EPA-registered disinfectant on all flights, which is rated to combat many communicable diseases.”

So that’s good.

The Main Cabin coach section of a Delta Air Lines 767-300 aircraft, seen prior to an LAX to New York JFK flight.

And last month, Delta “began deploying a fogging technique with a highly-effective, EPA-registered disinfectant, on flights arriving in our U.S. gateways from Asia – Atlanta, Detroit, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Portland and Seattle. Fogging procedures are currently being performed on all trans-Pacific arrivals into the U.S. We are working rapidly and have sourced additional machines to expand fogging to inbound international flights prioritizing trans-Atlantic inbound flights from markets with reported cases of coronavirus. Fogging procedures on all inbound Italy flights to New York-JFK and Atlanta began on Feb 29.”

What Is Fogging?

To put it crudely, fogging is a practice that applies chemicals to a large area.

“Thermal fogging is a means of quickly reaching all exposed areas,” blogs Bio Balance Now.  “This includes inside of cabinets and the exposed surfaces of all individual or home furnishings. Thermal fogging devices use heat to create a visible, fog-like, dry mist or ‘smoke.’ … Fogging reaches difficult areas such as cracks and crevices throughout the home and its furnishings, including out of reach surfaces, under furniture, carpets, and curtains.”

IC Solutions explains, “Many conventional cleaning products claim that they can kill 99.9% of germs… They may say they kill 99.9% of germs but in reality, this only amounts to approximately 3 or 4 bacteria on one surface. Fogging kills 99.9999% of bacteria, fungi and viruses, which means that there will only be approximately 1 bacteria left on the surface.”

It’s not this:

That’s just condensation inside an aircraft — and nothing to worry about. (And it looks kinda cool when Delta engages their mood lighting 🙂 ).

Rather, check out this demonstration filmed by an Ohio news crew:

Delta says that “for all trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic flights, cleaning crews are required to complete a rigorous 19-point checklist for cabin cleanliness including disinfecting cabin surfaces and customer contact areas such as seats, seatback pockets, tray tables and floors. Common area surfaces in galleys and lavatories are also disinfected using the same high-grade, EPA-registered disinfectant used in all aircraft cleaning procedures.”

So that presumably includes all flights from Asia (well, the few still operating) and the ones from Europe mentioned above. Can you imagine how long it takes to drop all the tray tables on widebody aircraft and also clean inside the seat backs?

Is Fogging Safe?

I’m no chemical expert. (My high school chemistry teacher will vouch for that.) But all this looks pretty safe, right? I mean, the technician in the above video walks around with no hazmat gear while applying the solution to an everyday home. So what’s to worry about?

Plus, Delta literally and figuratively has a lot riding on the health and safety of their passengers and crew. So there’s nothing to be concerned about.

Right?

One hopes Delta learned something from the flight attendants uniform problem — which generated lawsuits after uniform materials tested positive for arsenic, antimony, chromium, mercury, formaldehyde, fluorine and bromine.

Some flight attendants allegedly suffered such problems such as purple snot and breast milk. Not to mention memory loss, pulmonary issues, scarring on the lungs, increased blood pressure, thyroid issues, migraines, tumors, chronic sinus and urinary tract infection symptoms without actually having infections — to name but a few.

A colleague — and Delta Diamond — working in the materials industry is a little leery. He deals with toxic chemicals and wears a respirator mask every day. He points out that Delta doesn’t specifically name the cleaning agent they’re using — or what it contains.

“As a Delta Diamond who is regularly exposed to some pretty harsh chemicals in the line of work, I would absolutely need to see the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet required by OSHA law) for the UNNAMED EPA registered disinfectant just to be sure I have no conflicts (allergy or intolerance) with the compounds found in the fog,” he told me. “I have a slight intolerance to ketone-based chemicals (MEK and MIBK) due to my long history of overexposure from work-related use. I would also need to know the lifespan of the chemicals once they have been deposited on every surface of the aircraft. To me this may be a case of the cure is worse than the disease. I’m not a doctor but I am sure mine would love to discuss how this chemical will interact in my body if I inhale it or touch it. (And) I would need to see the MSDS before I boarded any international flight.”
I emailed Delta last night and asked which cleaning agent they’re using — and if there are any chances people might suffer reactions. I also checked if MSDS are available for passenger and crew review. I haven’t yet received a response but will post an update when/if I do.

Is the Fog a Clear Answer? Or a Smokescreen?

Are you comfortable with what Delta’s announced for their cleaning and disinfecting procedures? Take our poll below — and share your thoughts in the below comments section!

— Chris

Would you knowingly fly a plane that's been fogged?

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Featured image: ©iStock.com/Prapat Aowsakorn

 

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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3 Comments

  1. As a person with some chemical sensitivities, and knowing many folks with severe sensitivities, this is really concerning. Pathogens are really concerning too and i’m glad they are trying to do more to clean planes better! But there needs to be disclosure about what is being used to fog, and an MSDS made available as discussed in the article.

  2. I work for Delta Global Services [DGS], the company that is half owned by Delta Air Lines, which is responsible for doing the fogging. I can tell you with absolute certainty that the chemical used is Matrix-3. The MSDS can be found here. https://www.jondon.com/pub/media/pdf/msds_docs/MS-MX-ASC3.pdf
    I can also tell you that there is no 19 point inspection, nor are the tables wiped down regularly.

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