Several social media users have shared a post that shows a character from The Simpsons show claiming contrails cause respiratory illnesses. We fact-checked and found that the claim is Mostly False.
A Facebook post shows a snippet from The Simpsons show which claims contrails cause respiratory illnesses. The social media post has received 19k likes, 3.1k comments, and 14k shares till we last checked.
What is a contrail?
Contrail is a trail of condensed water released from an aircraft at a high altitude. Contrail is seen as a white streak against the sky.
Did The Simpsons show claim contrails cause respiratory illnesses?
Not exactly. No evidence confirms contrails cause respiratory illnesses. We could not find the exact episode in which Marge Simpson made such a statement, so unable to comment on the context behind such a statement.
The U.S.A. Federal Aviation Administration’s website informs that contrails are not unhealthy. The website explains that the water to form these particles comes from the atmosphere and from the engine exhaust. The engine exhaust contains burned aviation fuel. Since this product occur high above the ground, its impact is far less than the automobiles.
The U.K. government website also informs that there is no evidence to confirm contrails cause health problems.
We asked Mumbai based Dr Sarthak Rastogi, consultant Pulmonologist with Holy family Hospital and SL Raheja Fortis Hospital, Mumbai, about the claim. He says, “Contrails have no human health impact. They generally evaporate as they start coming down and never reach the earth’s surface. So they do not have any form of interaction with humans. The only way contrails can lead to human impact is by causing global warming. Contrails might contribute to global warming and climate change. The ice clouds are very high in the atmosphere. So they may prevent heat from leaving the atmosphere. Contrails may contribute to around 50% of the climate change caused by the air transport industry. Climate change can lead to widespread adverse health impacts from increased respiratory and cardiovascular morbidity, including premature death.”
On researching further, we found that contrails and respiratory illnesses are linked to cold temperatures. The available research shows that respiratory illnesses affect people more during colder months. Likewise, cooler weather impacts the number of contrails.
Contrails form at negative 40 degrees temperature. In warmer months, contrails can at very high elevations. In colder months, contrails can form at lower altitudes. This means airplanes at lower altitudes can form white, long clouds of water vapor in the winter.
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