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Aviation's Wounded Canaries

CallSign AirBird

Aviation's Wounded Canaries

A fume event during descent

"During the last ten minutes of flight, there was a banging noise followed by white smoke & fumes pouring thickly into the cabin. It was like being in a club, standing on the dance floor when a smoke machine starts for the atmosphere. Except this was on a plane which was still flying." (passenger)

 

The poisoning of airline pilots, cabin crew and passengers is a reality. This FREE  Ebook provides self-help tips and guidance to improved health after contaminated cabin air exposure.

No further Research needed for Aerotoxic Syndrome?

 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

FROM https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31389264,31092058,27258902,24925093,24892986,24713335,23782236,21438623,20461667,20447373,19891417,12017442?report=docsum

 

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

 

 

 

Flying frequently can be hazardous to your health.

by Bearnairdine Beaumont January 2020

Cabin air is better than the air in kindergartens fairy tale exposed

In general, the public is not familiar with this fact. Or the thinking is: bugs, radiation or perhaps ozone. But there’s more.

Toxic Pollution in Aircraft

Passengers should start measuring pollutants in the cabin air during a flight much more often. Then, the argument used by EASA and their contractor MHH Hannover (Medizinische Hochschule Hannover) that aircraft cabin air is better than the air in kindergartens, can truly be exposed as a 'fairy tale'.

The following occurred on an LH flight LH 0887 on the Vilnius-Frankfurt route in an Airbus 320neo when a passenger actually did measure the pollution. The video can be viewed here.

It is unmistakable: Both measuring instruments sound an alarm. And this although we are not talking about a fume-event. The yellow number in the left measuring device indicates the air quality in general, then is differentiated into individual substances: A value of almost 0.3 is measured for "HCHO" (in red), which is formaldehyde.

Not only the German "Committee for Indoor Air Quality (AIR)" has set limit values at 0.1 mg/m3 for formaldehyde. The WHO classifies formaldehyde as "carcinogenic" (Cat: carc. 1B) and "mutagenic" (Cat: muta.2). AIR writes: "This value should also not be exceeded over a short time (longer than half an hour)".

The measured value is almost three times higher, and a flight from Vilnius to Frankfurt is longer than half an hour. An assessment of the other measured values is linked here. By the way, the measuring device on the left shows the cosmic radiation at 2.06 microsieverts.

The prestigious World Health Organisation WHO stated in a meeting report from the year 2000 held in Bilthoven, The Netherlands, that “Indoor air quality is an important determinant of health and well being”, but that: ”The control of indoor air quality is often inadequate, one reason being the poor articulation, appreciation and understanding of basic principles underlying policies and action related to indoor air quality”.[1] In general the public is not familiar with such reports and those principles in particular, nor with their associated rights.

At the time, a WHO working group was convened to work out and agree on a set of principles and statements about “The right to healthy indoor air”, based on the fundamental principles of human rights, biomedical ethics and ecological sustainability. The conclusion of the Working Group informs groups responsible for healthy indoor air about their rights and obligations, and individuals by bringing those rights to their attention.[2] The statement concerning the right to an environment that improves living conditions and increases wellbeing and protects health, also applies to indoor environments.

Does it also apply to aircraft indoor environments? WHO states in their report that: “Under the principle of respect for autonomy (“self-determination”), everyone has the right to adequate information about potentially harmful exposures, and to be provided with effective means for controlling at least part of their indoor exposures.[3]”

And this is where the problems begin: the air breathed in aircraft is laced with potentially dangerous fumes containing not only carcinogenic organophosphates but also dangerous carbon monoxide (CO) and other gases from thermally degraded chemicals and their mixtures of various levels inside aircraft passenger cabins. No information is provided from the industry. No warning signs, no health warning in safety brochures or on tickets. Investigation into the reasons behind incidences now known widely as ‘fume events’ has been ongoing since the 1940s [4].

However, although regular and in the meantime daily occurrences throughout the airline industry and in most aircraft models are becoming public knowledge, and the fact that there is science, which has proven such contamination and its dangers, it does not stop the denials to keep rolling in: based on ‘not above legal limits’. Sixty-six years ago, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health wrote a report linking leukaemia to benzene, a common solvent and an ingredient in gasoline. “It is generally considered,” he wrote, “that the only absolutely safe concentration for benzene is zero." And that applies to countless substances.

Although a couple of airlines are stating that they are in the process of taking measurements with specialized equipment (but never seem to find anything), or are even in the process of installing new ‘improved’ filters, they declare that they are doing it for precautionary measures only and that they do not believe that such ‘rare’ incidents pose a problem, or can cause any ill-health.

If they are talking filters and are also ‘testing’ less toxic jet engine oils, the simple question springs to mind: Why install filters and change substances in oils if the fumes are not harmful to the occupants in the cabin? Is there really a big difference to be expected, by replacing one toxic agent with another?  Do filters filter everything?

WHO: “Under the principle of non-maleficence (“doing no harm”), no agent at a concentration that exposes any occupant to unnecessary health risk should be introduced into indoor air.”[5]

Of course the argument is always the same. Although it has been proven and the industry has had to admit that, yes, ‘fugitive emissions’ from jet-oils and other aircraft fluids can enter the cabin - they still insist that, of course, the levels of toxicity are always ‚below legal limits’ and therefore cannot cause any ill-health. However, it is well documented that i.e. CO can be dangerous at any level, and it is also well-known that ‚legal thresholds’ can be and have been in the past, adjusted to fit requirements. The industry’s requirements that is.

To avoid any changes to remedy an inherently awkward situation, the following is done: 1) The permissible limit thresholds are increased – this was i.e. successfully proposed in the field of mercury or, 2) you simply cannot find problematic values. All you have to do is use the proper method. For example, measure something that is not important at all. There are several hundred substances in those fumes. Fumes that often don’t even smell of anything, or if they do are invisible.

If we look at the list of selected substances measured on a far too small number of several ‘return’ flights with the same aircraft and company, we find yet again that the conclusions are: no levels exceed the legal limits (EASA[6] [7]). Other highly neurotoxic, carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting substances are not mentioned, not tested, and often not on any legal level limit list anyway; which means they should not be in the air at all – ever. Statements and warnings to this effect made by renowned scientists in the field are conveniently and regularly ignored.

One research study (commissioned by the industry), which tested aircraft cabin air quality on a total of 61 test flights, states: "The results show, that the cabin/cockpit air quality is similar or better than what is observed in normal indoor environments (offices, schools, kindergartens or dwellings). No occupational exposure limits and guidelines were exceeded." 61 test flights are too few. One could speak of statistical zero-relevance. It turned out that, in addition, they often used the same aircraft from the same airline, on which - for example, the consequences of no fumes from (not) leaking labyrinth seals - were measured on return flights.

To use different planes on each flight would have made more sense than return flights on the same aircraft, but in view of the way too small sample it doesn't really matter anyway." (8) "Further measurement taken on 108 flights related to the popularly quoted number of ‚only’ 1: 2.000 flights on which a serious fume event occurs, is on a statistical average 5.4 % of the quantity actually required - according to the probability calculation. In a statistics seminar, such an interpretation would probably spark amusement and the book written by Professor Walter Krämer, professor of statistics: "This is how one lies with statistics" comes to mind". [8]

And of course it would make sense to compare such substances in the cabin air simultaneously with those that can be detected immediately afterwards in the "biological material", i.e. in blood and urine. And to then compare them - as epidemiologists would - with the data of an uncontaminated control group. Not just once, but several times. But, the fact is, that such ‚studies’ are usually using "third-party funds from industry" and as such 'could' be biased ... Ultimately, one does not measure what one would have to measure if one wanted to get to the bottom of the problem.

Bearnairdine Beaumont - first published July 2018, updated January 2020

©Source: Prof. J. Ludwig www.anstageslicht.de >>> Aerotoxic Logbook

#itsintheairwebreathe

by Bearnairdine Beaumont

Under the principle of the human right to health, everyone has the right to breathe healthy air. Also indoors.

The prestigious World Health Organisation WHO stated in a meeting report from the year 2000 held in Bilthoven, The Netherlands, that “Indoor air quality is an important determinant of health and wellbeing”, but that: ”The control of indoor air quality is often inadequate, one reason being the poor articulation, appreciation and understanding of basic principles underlying policies and action related to indoor air quality”.

In general the public is not familiar with such reports and those principles in particular, nor with their associated rights. At the time, a WHO working group was convened to work out and agree on a set of principles and statements about “The right to healthy indoor air”, based on the fundamental principles of human rights, biomedical ethics and ecological sustainability. The conclusion of the Working Group informs groups responsible for healthy indoor air about their rights and obligations, and individuals by bringing those rights to their attention.

The statement concerning the right to an environment that improves living conditions and increases wellbeing and protects health, also applies to indoor environments. Does it also apply to aircraft indoor environments? WHO states in their report that: “Under the principle of respect for autonomy (“self-determination”), everyone has the right to adequate information about potentially harmful exposures, and to be provided with effective means for controlling at least part of their indoor exposures.

”And this is where the problems begin: we breathe air laced with potentially dangerous fumes containing not only highly toxic organophosphates but also carbon monoxide (CO) from thermally degraded chemicals and their mixtures of various levels inside aircraft passenger cabins. No information is provided by the industry. No warning signs, no health warning in safety brochures or on tickets. An investigation into the reasons behind incidences now known widely as ‘fume events’ has been ongoing since the 1940s. (Time Line)

However, although regular and in the meantime daily occurrences throughout the airline industry and in most aircraft models are becoming public knowledge, and the fact that there is science, which has proven such contamination and its dangers, it does not stop the denials to keep rolling in: based on ‘not above legal limits’.


However: 61 test flights are too few. One could speak of statistical zero-relevance. It turned out that, in addition, they often used the same aircraft from the same airline, on which - for example, the consequences of no fumes from (not) leaking labyrinth seals - were measured on return flights. To use different planes on each flight would have made more sense than return flights on the same aircraft, but in view of the way too small sample it doesn't really matter anyway."

"Further measurements taken on 108 flights related to the popularly quoted number of ‚only’ 1: 2.000 flights on which a serious fume event occurs, is on a statistical average 5.4 % of the quantity actually required - according to the probability calculation. In a statistics seminar, such an interpretation would probably spark amusement and the book written by Professor Walter Krämer, professor of statistics: "This is how one lies with statistics" springs to mind".

And of course, it would make sense to compare such substances in the cabin air simultaneously with those that can be detected immediately afterwards in the "biological material", i.e. in blood and urine. And to then compare them - as epidemiologists would - with the data of an uncontaminated control group. Not just once, but several times.

Study Shows 'Toxic Air Events' Happening On More Flights Than FAA Reports

Is your aircraft a death trap?

 

 

"Of all of these potential contaminants, particular concerns have been raised regarding the negative impact on flight safety when crew members are exposed to oil or hydraulic fluid fumes or smoke and experience acute symptoms in flight (ICAO, 2015)."

Sixty-six years ago, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health wrote a report linking leukaemia to benzene, a common solvent and an ingredient in gasoline. “It is generally considered,” he wrote, “that the only absolutely safe concentration for benzene is zero." And that applies to countless substances.

Although, a couple of airlines are stating that they are in the process of taking measurements with specialized equipment (but never seem to find anything), or are even in the process of installing new ‘improved’ filters they declare that they are doing it for precautionary measures only, and that they do not believe that such ‘rare’ incidents pose a problem, or can cause any ill-health. If they are talking filters and are also testing "less toxic" jet engine oils, the simple question springs to mind: Why install filters and change oils if the fumes are not harmful to the occupants in the cabin?

WHO: “Under the principle of non-maleficence (“doing no harm”), no agent at a concentration that exposes any occupant to unnecessary health risk should be introduced into indoor air.” Of course, the argument is always the same. Although it has been proven and the industry has had to admit that, yes, ‘fugitive emissions’ from jet-oils and other aircraft fluids can enter the cabin - they still insist that, of course, the levels of toxicity are always ‚below legal limits’ and therefore cannot cause any ill-health. However, it is well documented that i.e. CO can be dangerous at any level, and it is also well-known that ‚legal limits’ can be and have been in the past, adjusted to fit requirements. The industry’s requirements that is.

To avoid any changes to remedy an inherently awkward situation, the following is usually done:

1) The permissible limit values are increased – this was e.g. successfully proposed in the field of mercury.

2) you simply cannot find problematic levels. All you have to do is use the "proper" method. For example, measure a substance that is not important at all.

There are several hundred substances in those fumes. Fumes that often don’t even smell of anything, or if they do are invisible. If we look at the list of selected substances measured on a far too small number of several ‘return’ flights with the same aircraft and company, we find yet again that the conclusions are: no levels exceed the legal limits (EASA) .

Other highly neurotoxic, cancerogenic and endocrine-disrupting substances are not mentioned, not tested, and often not on any legal level limit list anyway; which means they should not be in the air at all – ever. Statements and warnings to this effect made by renowned scientists in the field are conveniently and regularly ignored.

One research study (commissioned by the industry), which tested aircraft cabin air quality on a total of 61 test flights, states: "The results show, that the cabin/cockpit air quality is similar or better than what is observed in normal indoor environments (offices, schools, kindergartens or dwellings). "No occupational exposure limits and guidelines were exceeded." is the usual statement one receives.

However: 61 test flights are too few. One could speak of statistical zero-relevance. It turned out that, in addition, they often used the same aircraft from the same airline, on which - for example, the consequences of no fumes from (not) leaking labyrinth seals - were measured on return flights. To use different planes on each flight would have made more sense than return flights on the same aircraft, but in view of the way too small sample it doesn't really matter anyway." "Further measurement taken on 108 flights related to the popularly quoted number of ‚only’ 1: 2.000 flights on which a serious fume event occurs, is on a statistical average 5.4 % of the quantity actually required - according to the probability calculation. In a statistics seminar, such an interpretation would probably spark amusement and the book written by Professor Walter Krämer, professor of statistics: "This is how one lies with statistics" springs to mind".

And of course, it would make sense to compare such substances in the cabin air simultaneously with those that can be detected immediately afterwards in the "biological material", i.e. in blood and urine. And to then compare them - as epidemiologists would - with the data of an uncontaminated control group. Not just once, but several times.


Leak of toxic engine oil mist in to the cabin

CNN's Allan Chernoff reports on how eight people were sickened due to an oil leak on a US Airways jet engine.

PAN PAN PAN - Toxic Fumes British Airways A380 (ATC)

October 25, 2016, a British Airways A380, operating flight BA286 from SFO to LHR with callsign "Speedbird 6B Super" had to divert to Vancouver due to a smoke inhalation event onboard that left as many of 20 cabin crew and passengers intoxicated.

But, the fact is, that such ‚studies’ are usually using "third-party funds from industry" and as such 'could' be biased ... Ultimately, one does not measure what one would have to measure if one wanted to get to the bottom of the problem.

WHO: “Under the precautionary principle, where there is a risk of harmful indoor air exposure, the presence of uncertainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent such exposure.” And also: “Under the “polluter pays” principle, the polluter is accountable for any harm to health and/or welfare resulting from unhealthy indoor air exposure.

In addition, the polluter is responsible for mitigation and remediation.” Tensions and conflicts often occur between individuals suffering from the consequences and ill health from indoor air pollution and those whose actions and products used negatively influence indoor air quality – it is no different in the airline industry.

Countless passengers and crewmembers have already suffered ill health, ranging from mild to severe cases, to lifelong ill health with the loss of their license to fly, even death as a result from chronic and acute exposure to cabin aircraft (indoor) pollution. Low level or not. Aerotoxic Syndrome a new occupational disease? (publication at 'Public Health Panorama' by WHO).

What can aircraft 'indoor' air be compared to? Certainly not to 'kindergarten' and hospital surgery rooms, a favourite comparison by the airline industry. The general public nowadays uses air transportation as a means to get to places for business, a quick weekend trip, a one-day city hop and holidays, nearly as much as driving by car. They do not expect to be poisoned in the process. We don’t know what levels of potential hazards in cabin air are safe for every person.

Potential cabin air hazards may include. Ventilation hazards, including carbon monoxide, ozone, and carbon dioxide levels. Pesticide exposures on certain flights and that residue stuck to the interior. Transmission of communicable diseases from sick passengers. Cabin altitude and pressurization changes. Low oxygen levels and low humidity. Air contamination events, when cabin air becomes contaminated with breakdown products from heated engine oils and other substances.

Cabin air contaminants can include carbon dioxide (CO2), products of combustion such as highly toxic carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides, (nano-sized) particulates and aldehydes, fumes from fuel, de-icing fluids, and then there's the issue with the seals, which aren't really seals, but controlled leakage devices, through which jet engine oils and other substances containing organic hydrocarbons and other neurotoxic and cancerogenic substances 'escape', not to mention: cleaning products, allergens and infectious agents such as viruses and bacteria. And all of this is in a confined, hermetically sealed aluminium hull with no possibility to open windows or to escape.

So: IS YOUR AIRCRAFT A DEATHTRAP?

The Scent of Flying another FREE Ebook 😀

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"Concentrations of CO exceeding one part in 20,000 parts of air (0.005 per cent) are hazardous. To prevent an airplane from becoming a deathtrap, a thorough examination of the exhaust manifold and heater assembly should be conducted at regular intervals and whenever CO contamination of the cockpit or cabin is suspected because cracks and holes may occur in a relatively short time.

Some aircraft manufacturers recommend that exhaust and heater systems be inspected as often as every 25 hours of flight time. Carbon monoxide in the cabin or cockpit has been traced to worn or defective exhaust stack slip joints, exhaust system cracks or holes, openings in the engine firewall, "blowby" at the engine breather, defective gaskets in the exhaust manifold, defective mufflers, and inadequate sealing or fairing around strut fittings on the fuselage." (©source: FAA).

Aircraft manufacturers issue special maintenance manuals with instructions on how and when to clean air ducts and engines after fume events.  

Example (excerpt): "APU maintenance guidelines to avoid smell in cabins: Once the source has been established and rectified, the task of decontamination should be performed. Failure to eliminate the source of the contamination will lead to repeated occurrences of reporting odour in the cabin, repeated application of the decontamination procedure and significant duplication of efforts.

Operational experience has also shown that intermittent odour reports, as described, can occur after the source of leakage had been identified and rectified. This is due to the residual system contamination and emphasizes the importance of a thorough ECS decontamination.

Eliminate the source of contaminants as per Aircraft Maintenance Manual (AMM) instructions and if ingestion is confirmed, inspect the condition of the APU doors’ sealing, intake duct sealing, alignment between the APU intake duct and APU inlet plenum, oil cooler discharge duct and restore them if required. Failure to do so will lead to repeated occurrences of reporting odour in the cabin, whenever an APU external fluid leakage occurs." (source: AirbusFast Technical Magazine)

Perhaps renowned organisations such as WHO should work closely with authorities and politicians to make sure that the measures required for the implementation of their principles are adopted, and follow up their implementation regularly.

First published 2018, updated Dec. 2019 Bearnairdine Beaumont

 


Reference list/cited:

1. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/117316/E69828.pdf?ua=1

2. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/117316/E69828.pdf?ua=1

3. EASA Cabin Air Quality onboard Large Aeroplanes

4. EASA Preliminary cabin air quality measurement campaign

5. An uncovering of Tricks, Methods and Strategies - Professor J. Ludwig, DokZentrum/www.Anstageslicht.de

6. http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/117316/E69828.pdf?ua=1

 

NOTE: regarding the above citations/ quotes from the WHO website: © World Health Organization – 2000 states: All rights in this document are reserved by the WHO Regional Office for Europe. The document may nevertheless be freely reviewed, abstracted, reproduced or translated into any other language (but not for sale or for use in conjunction with commercial purposes) provided that full acknowledgement is given to the source.