Aerotoxic Global Network·Thursday, February 6, 2020·7 minutes
Sadly, this statement will not be heard for a long time yet - from either side of the bench. In a workshop hosted by EASA, which took place in Cologne/Germany at the end of January 2020 this discussion took place. Attendees were, among others: Lufthansa, Air France, British Airways, American Airline, KLM, Icelandair, Boeing, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Pall Aerospace, Honeywell, as well as some aviation regulators, unions and associations. The conclusion of it all was: more research is required. One of the reasons being, it seems, that a previous multi-million euro three-year study commissioned by EASA “failed to advance knowledge”. Not invited to add to their knowledge were “Patienteninitiative – Contaminated Cabin Air e.V.” from Germany and Michael MULDER from “IKAROS -Non-profit Foundation for Post Mortem research of prematurely deceased cockpit- & cabin crew members and airline passengers”, The Netherlands. However, Capt. John HOYTE, the founder of the Aerotoxic Association/UK, once a pilot himself, was allowed to share the experiences he has with injured parties.
The two-day workshop can be summarized as follows: The European Aviation Safety Authority, which primarily gives the floor to representatives of the companies and interest groups concerned, who then also dominate the political discussion, sees no need for further measures.(quote source: Anstageslicht.de) So, “more research” has been requested, such as an epidemiological study with air travellers who have experienced fume events. One wonders if this study would focus on “acute and visible fume events”, or would it include “exposure to contaminated cabin air in general”? Or would that entail two research projects? Or more?
Rather than more research which usually ends up pleasing the industry by repeating and "confirming" previous (non-) findings, activity should be taken to reduce and eliminate long-term health risk to people from the toxic fumes - visible or not. Now. Aerotoxic Team, and other organisations, has been calling for an “International Medical Protocol”, as well as a detection system such as i.e. CO or VOC sensors, and especially and immediately adequate breathing protection (masks) for cabin crew, for years. The latter being the simplest and quickest thing to do.
Alas, the phrases "further or more research is needed" (FRIN), and other variants are commonly used in research papers and give a good excuse for the industry to not implement masks, sensors or medical protocols. I think I yet have to come across one that does not use the phrase. The closest to a researcher not recommending more research into the subject at hand I found in this paper, in which the researcher and lead author Byron W. Jones PhD, recommends: "Now that the nature of the particulates that result from bleed air contamination has been determined, it is recommended that research be conducted to identify reasonable-cost, rugged, and reliable sensing technology that could be deployed widely in the aircraft fleet to detect oil contamination."
FRIN is really a bit of a joke.
Of course, it is legitimate to repeat a research analysis by using a slightly different approach, or different statistical methods, to see if the results are generally the same or not. If not, then that opens the door to look for reasons why. The problem in our case is that industry-funded research will always present findings that contradict independent researchers' findings - and the revolving door continues its spin: FRIN.
Professor Trish Greenhalgh at the Primary Care Health Sciences University of Oxford, argues that FRIN is often used as a way in which a "lack of hard evidence to support the original hypothesis gets reframed as evidence that investment efforts need to be redoubled", which, it seems is what EASA is intending. She has also described FRIN as "an indicator that serious scholarly thinking on the topic has ceased", saying that "it is rarely the only logical conclusion that can be drawn from a set of negative, ambiguous, incomplete or contradictory data."
Fact is: The air from the turbine engines of commercial jet aircraft is used chiefly for propulsion; some is also used to refresh and replenish the air in the cabin. As a result of oil-seal leakage, pyrolysed engine oil or lubricating oil can contaminate cabin air via the aircraft's ventilation system, and flight crew and passengers can inhale the combusted fumes. Exposure to these emissions is associated with certain health risks and this phenomenon is known as the Aerotoxic Syndrome. When we enter "Aerotoxic Syndrome" in the NCIB resources / PubMed search bar, the list of research studies at the end of this article pops up - all authored by reputable scientists.
For an even longer list of studies on the subject of contaminated cabin air, the toxic compounds it contains and Aerotoxic Syndrome, go to the science page at Aerotoxic Team Global Network.
How much more science do we need?
1. Aerotoxic syndrome, discussion of possible diagnostic criteria. Hageman G, Pal TM, Nihom J, Mackenzie Ross SJ, Berg MVD. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2019 Aug 7:1-3. doi: 10.1080/15563650.2019.1649419.
2. Three patients with probable aerotoxic syndrome. Hageman G, Pal TM, Nihom J, MackenzieRoss SJ, van den Berg M.Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2020 Feb;58(2):139-142. doi: 10.1080/15563650.2019.1616092. Epub 2019 May 16. PMID: 31092058
3. A comparison of fresh and used aircraft oil for the identification of toxic substances linked to aerotoxic syndrome. Megson D, Ortiz X, Jobst KJ, Reiner EJ, Mulder MF, Balouet JC.Chemosphere. 2016 Sep;158:116-23. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2016.05.062. Epub 2016 May 31. PMID: 27258902
4. Tricresyl phosphate and the aerotoxic syndrome of flight crew members--current gaps in knowledge. de Boer J, Antelo A, van der Veen I, Brandsma S, Lammertse N. Chemosphere. 2015 Jan;119 Suppl:S58-61. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.05.015. Epub 2014 Jun 10 PMID: 24925093
5. Detection of cresyl phosphate-modified butyrylcholinesterase in human plasma for chemical exposure associated with aerotoxic syndrome. Schopfer LM, Masson P, Lamourette P, Simon S, Lockridge O. Anal Biochem. 2014 Sep 15;461:17-26. doi: 10.1016/j.ab.2014.05.021. Epub 2014 Jun 2. PMID:24892986
6. Aerotoxic syndrome: fact or fiction?. de Graaf LJ, Hageman G, Gouders BC, Mulder MF. Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2014;158:A6912. Review. Dutch. PMID: 24713335
7. Effects of viscosity and osmotic stress on the reaction of human butyrylcholinesterase with cresyl saligenin phosphate, a toxicant related to aerotoxic syndrome: kinetic and molecular dynamics studies. Masson P, Lushchekina S, Schopfer LM, Lockridge O. Biochem J. 2013 Sep 15;454(3):387-99. doi: 10.1042/BJ20130389.
8. Reaction of cresyl saligenin phosphate, the organophosphorus agent implicated in aerotoxic syndrome, with human cholinesterases: mechanistic studies employing kinetics, mass spectrometry, and X-ray structure analysis. Carletti E, Schopfer LM, Colletier JP, Froment MT, Nachon F, Weik M, Lockridge O, Masson P. Chem Res Toxicol. 2011 Jun 20;24(6):797-808. doi: 10.1021/tx100447k. Epub 2011 Apr 18.PMID:21438623
9. Aerotoxic syndrome: danger caused by hydraulic oil in aircraft?. Gross H.Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 2010 May;135(19):p18. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1247682. Epub 2010 May 11. German. No abstract available.PMID:20461667
10. Development of diagnostics in the search for an explanation of aerotoxic syndrome. Schopfer LM, Furlong CE, Lockridge O. Anal Biochem. 2010 Sep 1;404(1):64-74. doi: 10.1016/j.ab.2010.04.032. Epub 2010 May 4. PMID:20447373
11. Preliminary report on aerotoxic syndrome (AS) and the need for diagnostic neurophysiological tests. Hale MA, Al-Seffar JA. Am J Electroneurodiagnostic Technol. 2009 Sep;49(3):260-79. Review. PMID: 19891417 12. Forensic aspects of the aerotoxic syndrome. Abeyratne R. Med Law. 2002;21(1):179-99. PMID: 12017442
HOW ABOUT THE AEROTOXIC TEAM SCIENCE PAGE COLLECTION? https://www.aerotoxicteam.com/science.html
FRIN: A Satire by the "Collectively Unconscious" blog: “An article in the journal SCIENCE concluded that "no further research is needed, at all, anywhere, ever". An emergency task force convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science has confirmed the conclusions drawn in the paper. ‘A close examination of several hundred recent papers revealed that the suggestions for future research in papers are generally handwavy speculations about increased sample sizes, invisibility cloaks, epigenetics, personalized medicine or ways to stop the inevitable demise of our planet. If that’s the best they can do, then it’s time for scientists across the world to close their laptops, power down their workstations, go home and hug their families. We could find no ongoing science that justifies either the continued expenditure of taxpayer money or the scientists precious time.” (satire©source)
By Bearnairdine Beaumont / Aerotoxic Team Global Network - February 2020