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Senator Feinstein takes on the Aerotoxic Syndrome problem

Message Janet Parker

Medical Whistleblower wishes to thank Senator Dianne Feinstein of California for bringing the issue of Aerotoxic Syndrome into the discussion of the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act. Senators have given final passage to the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act (S.1451 / H.R. 1586) by a vote of 93 to 0. The bill was introduced by Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate's commerce committee, and Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., chairman of the aviation subcommittee.

Two important aspects of this new legislation relate to Medical Whistleblower advocacy efforts. There will be protection for passengers so that there will no longer be incidents of being stranded on tarmacs longer than 3 hours. This problem was presented to the US Congress by passenger rights groups in cooperation with transportation whistleblower groups.

The protection for stranded passengers is part of larger bill that provides a blueprint for Federal Aviation Administration programs for the next two years, including an acceleration of the agency's timetable for modernizing the nation's air traffic control system. The provision would provide for the human rights of passengers and their health and safety by: 1) Requiring planes delayed more than three hours to return to a gate to give passengers the opportunity to get off 2) Requiring airlines to provide passengers with food, potable water, comfortable cabin temperature and ventilation, and adequate restrooms while a plane is delayed on the ground.

Senator Feinstein added an amendment designed to address the problem of toxins in the cabin air on airplanes. This amendment addresses the issue of toxins entering the ventilation systems on commercial aircraft. Designed to ensure the FAA has the necessary information to protect the American public from exposure to harmful contaminants while flying the amendment calls for the following: 1) It would require FAA to complete a study of cabin air quality within one year. 2) The amendment would provide FAA with the authority to mandate that airlines allow air quality monitoring on their aircraft for the purposes of the study.

This amendment was necessary because the air in the passenger cabin is a mixture of re-circulated cabin air and fresh air that is compressed in the airplane engine. Airplane cabin air can get contaminated with engine oils or hydraulic fluids that get heated to very high temperatures, often appearing as a smelly haze or smoke. These aerosolized toxins that appear as a haze or smoke that enters the cabin air and can contain carbon monoxide gas, neurotoxic chemicals called tricresylphosphates (TCPs) and also heavy metals. Exposure to these toxins can cause serious health problems including:

Fatigue feeling exhausted, even after sleep

Blurred or tunnel vision

Shaking and tremors

Loss of balance and vertigo


Loss of consciousness

Memory impairment



Light-headedness, dizziness

Confusion / cognitive problems

Feeling intoxicated





Breathing difficulties (shortness of breath)

Irritation of eyes, nose and upper airways

Tightness in chest

Respiratory failure requiring oxygen

Increased heart rate and palpitations

At present there appears to be no FAA standard for identifying or preventing the presence of toxic fumes in aircraft cabins. This newly enacted legislation would now require that the Federal Aviation Administration implement a research program to identify appropriate and effective air cleaning technology and sensor technology for the engine and auxiliary power unit air supplied to the passenger cabin and flight deck of all pressurized aircraft. But there should be more than a "research program" to study what equipment most effectively fixes this air quality problem.

There is already the Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner which already eliminates the possibility of cabin air contamination by engine oil. Instead of bleed air, cabin air is supplied by electrically-driven compressors.

In even in today's existing bleed air aircraft, the quality of cabin air could be improved, and the risk of contamination by engine oil reduced with these solutions, all of which could be easily and relatively cheaply implemented: 1) Installation of bleed air filters 2) A less toxic oil formulation. The French company NYCO already has suitable oil available with approved for use in most airliners. 3) Contaminated air detectors in the bleed air supplies.

See the previous OpEd News article on this subject:

Listen to archived Medical Whistleblower blogtalk radio show:

For additional information on this topic please see The Aerotoxic Association website at

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Medical Whistleblower is an organization dedicated to advocacy and emotional support for those who have bravely stepped forward to "Tell Truth to Power" to the Medical Establishment. Medical Whistleblowers report Medical Fraud, Abuse and (more...)

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