Inhalation of toxic airplane cabin air causes an illness that has been named Aerotoxic Syndromeand is a major flight safety issue. The cabin air is contaminated with oil from the jet engines because a supply of warm compressed air is pumped into the cabin which comes from the air passing through the airplane's jet engines. The air is contaminated through the mixture of air and jet oil when the seals of the engine leak oil into the air that is circulated through them. Due to the design of the way engine oil seals work and the natural wear of the engine seals, these seals cannot be 100% effective, and will leak a certain amount of oil into the air. The seals can also mechanically fail causing a visible "fume" of smoke fumes to enter the cabin. There are no filters of the cabin air supply to prevent this was happening. The effects of inhaling contaminated air can cause serious impairment to the crew and passengers at the time and causes an illness that is often not immediately identified and can have cause chronic long term health effects.
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Call in to the show with your questions at (347) 857-4599It is possible according to government sources that one flight in 100 may suffer a "fume" event (contamination may even be more frequent), but it is accepted most events are never reported at all. Small amounts of contamination of the cabin air may not be detected at all. So it is likely that this problem is under reported due to a lack of awareness of the public, airline staff, and maintenance personnel. A contamination event may be detected by just a faint odor to the air but can also be a visible bluish haze or smoke in the cabin.
Jet engine oil is specially designed to withstand intense heat and extreme environment of these high velocity engines. The oil contains many toxic ingredients, including a organophosphate - Tricresyl Phosphate (TCP) which is added to engine oil as an anti-wear agent. It must be remembered that organophosphates are used in nerve agents. TCP is much more dangerous than first realized because it contains neutotoxic. isomers, tri-ortho-cresyl phosphate (TOCP), MOCP (mono-ortho-cresyl phosphate) and DOCP (di-ortho-cresyl phosphate). The mixture of chemicals in the aircraft engine oils are heated and vaporized producing a large list of other chemicals including carbon monoxide.
The acute and chronic symptoms of Aerotoxic Syndrome are variable and numerous including: fatigue, blurred or tunnel vision, shaking and tremors, loss of balance and vertigo, seizures, loss of consciousness, memory impairment, headache, tinnitus, light-headedness, dizziness, confusion, feeling intoxicated, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, coughs, breathing difficulties, tightness in chest, respiratory failure requiring oxygen, increased heart rate and palpitations, irritation of eyes, nose and upper airways.
Because the airline passengers may not know they have been exposed, they may attribute these symptoms to some other illness. For mild exposures, the symptoms may resolve over time. After a large fume event the passenger may not feel any symptoms initially, but then later a few days after their flight they realize they are seriously ill. Symptoms may be short term or long term. Airplane staff and frequent airline travelers, because of the number of hours that they fly, may be exposed chronically through many smaller contamination events thus cumulatively causing a greater health risk. Unfortunately the debilitating effects of a major exposure to contaminated air can have long term health consequences. .With those suffering with the more severe neurological symptoms, permanent damage may have been caused. It is important to educate the public and medical clinicians about the problem. It is also extremely important to recognize the problem and to have a detection and filtration system for airplane cabin air to prevent exposure of the passengers and crew.