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Articles by Naomi Kirsten

Naomi Kirsten is an assistant editor at Harper's Magazine.

Featured Article

Vacations are supposed to leave you feeling relaxed, happy, and healthy — but if you travel by air, you might feel worse by the time you get home than you did when you left.

Fear of flying? For good reason.

Flying should not generally be the transportation option of choice for the environmentally minded, given its intensive use of resources. (Intercity buses consume less than a fifth the energy jets do to cover the same amount of distance.) And not only is it lousy for the Earth, it’s not great for your own health, either.

Returning to the U.S. recently on an Air Jamaica flight, I felt so ill that I almost lost consciousness. I was overcome with nausea and dizziness, and when I tried to talk, my husband reported that I didn’t make sense. He thought I was having some sort of seizure. In reality, I was having an allergic reaction to an agent (not the federally employed kind) in the cabin air.

Jamaica is one of 12 countries that require routine “disinsection” — the spraying of pesticides — on all inbound flights. Grenada, India, Kiribati, Madagascar, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay req... Read more