Study Reveals Why Pilots' Farts Can Be Dangerous

...but passengers' are fine

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 15, 2013 8:10 AM CST

(Newser) – Need to pass gas on a plane? No worries—assuming you're a passenger, says an oddball new study. In fact, researchers encourage you to go right ahead: Pressure changes associated with flying do indeed make us more gassy, and holding it means potential indigestion and heartburn, AFP reports. If you're a pilot, however, you might want to think twice about letting one go. The "co-pilot may be affected by its odor, which ... reduces safety onboard the flight," the authors—five European gastroenterologists—say.

But it's a bit of a conundrum, since holding it in could result in the aforementioned unpleasant effects for the pilot. The study, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, weighed in on other flatulence-related topics: It found, for instance, that women's farts are smellier than men's, and that sulfur is at the root of the bad smell. Researchers also discovered a hidden benefit to sitting in economy class: The textile seat covers absorb up to half a fart's smell; first-class leather seats offer no such advantage.

It's fine for passengers to fart on planes, a study says.
It's fine for passengers to fart on planes, a study says.   (Shutterstock)
Pilots in the cockpit of a Boeing 787.
Pilots in the cockpit of a Boeing 787.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
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