The Aerotoxic Association has called for an investigation into the effect of contaminated air in planes
The Aerotoxic Association has called for an investigation into the effect of contaminated air in planes

International investigation into effects of toxic air on planes demanded by health association

World Health Organisation paper says disorder must be medically recognised 'urgently' 

Ronan J. O'Shea
Thursday 24 May 2018 13:07

The Aerotoxic Association has called for evidence of health problems experienced by the public following exposure to toxic oil fumes.

Aerotoxic syndrome is said to be caused by exposure to contaminated air in aircraft. The first reference to it as a condition was in a 1999 paper published by Dr Harry Hoffman, Professor Chris Winder and Jean Christophe Balouet PhD called Aerotoxic Syndrome: Adverse health effects following exposure to jet oil mist during commercial flights.

In a statement on its website published yesterday, the association, which works to highlight the effects of aerotoxic syndrome, called for an independent public inquiry into the possible technical solutions to contaminated air on planes.

Peter Lawton, spokesperson for the Aerotoxic Association, told The Independent: “The Aerotoxic Association is calling for an Independent Public Inquiry at the International Criminal Court in The Hague into all the evidence, for and against, of the impact of toxic cabin air in aircraft.

“This is following numerous scientific research papers over the last 20 years highlighting health concerns and our contact with around 2,500 people who we believe are victims of Aerotoxic Syndrome.

“Our hope is that the court will consider all the evidence on this matter and realise that, based on the precautionary principle, it is vital that the known solutions to this problem in terms of air filtration systems are made mandatory in all aircraft that use ‘bleed air’ for their pressurised cabin air.”

Bleed air is used to provide cabin pressurisation and air conditioning.

The Aerotoxic Association says symptoms of aerotoxic syndrome may include “headaches, breathing difficulties, muscle aching and exhaustion,” while repeated exposure can affect the central nervous system and result in adverse neurological symptoms such as breathing and vision problems, fatigue, lack of concentration, memory impairment, cognitive problems and an inability to focus.

According to John Hoyte, the organisation’s founder and a former pilot, evidence suggests bleed air filters prevent the threat of poisoning.

Aerotoxic syndrome remains unofficially recognised 

Hoyte founded the association in 2007 to raise the issue of toxic air exposure in aircraft and support people suffering from aerotoxic syndrome. The association says aerotoxic syndrome is caused by contaminated and unfiltered bleed air used in the aircraft cabin, which can “lead to toxic substances entering the cabin due to a known fundamental design flaw.”

An assessment by the UK’s House of Lords Science and Technology Committee in 2000 found claims of health effects were unsubstantiated and despite further assessments it remains unrecognised as a condition.

A spokesperson from the Royal College of Physicians confirmed that it remains unrecognised by the World Health Organisation.

However, a study published in the World Health Organisation journal Public Health Panorama claimed contaminated air causes both long and short-term health problems for travellers.

Conducted by the University of Sterling in conjunction with University of Ulster, the study said there was a direct link between exposure to air contaminated by oil and other aircraft fluids and a number of health issues.

It concluded that a ”clear cause and effect relationship has been identified linking the symptoms, diagnoses and findings to the occupational environment” and called for an urgent medical investigation and recognition of aerotoxic syndrome as an occupational disorder.

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