Thursday, 29 May 2008

Are contaminated aircraft cabins making people ill?

Yesterday, BBC news had a story about how the government is going to fund research into whether bleed air from aircraft engines is making flight crew and passengers ill.

I'd read a bit about this before on pprune, so I was interested (and relieved) to hear that something's actually going to be done. The research is going to focus on the BAE 146 and the Boeing 757, which are apparently the worst culprits (although from what I've read, it's not simply a problem limited to just these two types).

My travels on the net led me to this:, which is linked to a pressure group called the Aerotoxic association. Basically, they are claiming that pilots all around the world have developed "aerotoxic syndrome", which they say involves:

"Chronic fatigue, respiratory, neurological, cognitive problems and a sensitivity to chemicals. Many sufferers have had their health and their lives ruined. While many have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses related to the aircraft exposures, a significant number have been ignored or misdiagnosed with depression, other psychological problems or illnesses such as alzheimers or MS."

As far as I'm aware, my husband hasn't been exposed to the neurotoxins the group claims are blighting all these lives. I pray he never is. But I am certainly glad that scientists are looking into it.

I'd be interested to hear whether any pilots or their other halves have any experience of this. Has it happened to you?

1 comment:

  1. I'm a pilot and I flew both the aircraft you mention. My health declined, starting with fatigue, followed by cognitive difficulties and neurological problems which got worse until the point I had to stop flying.

    My research leads me to firmly believe it was caused by breathing day-to-day background levels of contaminated cabin air. I have communicated with about a dozen pilots, and we all share a selection of symptoms that you summarise, plus a complete denial by our airlines that there is any problem with the air quality. Most I have spoken to have flown either the 146 or 757. And there are countless accounts of other aircrew that also bear this out, not to mention numerous independent studies showing contaminated cabin air to be a real health issue. The trouble is, the government have commissioned their own research which dismisses all this information for one reason or another and manages to conclude that everything is OK. This latest study has already attracted criticism for it's flawed methods and analysis.

    It would seem that the regulators and the DfT are in the airlines' pockets, and everything is being done to keep this issue under wraps or downplay it's seriousness.

    There are lots of interesting testimonies by passengers and aircrew at




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