Three women have come a long way since their much loved flying careers came to an abrupt end. Due to ill-health. Medical retirement they called it. What 'they' didn't say was: Due to contaminated cabin air in their work environment. They don't say: Your breathing air is sometimes laced with highly neurotoxic chemicals. They say: It's as clean as the air in an operating theatre. But, as they discovered and daily many more are also, this is not true!
Over the years each woman on her own has researched and studied and piled up evidence and compiled lists of help seekers. They have gathered information and knowledge concerning ‚Aerotoxic Syndrome’, which describes in a word the collection of neurological injuries which one can receive after having been exposed to toxic air over a long period of time or during so called fume events. Poisoned. At work.
These women may not be academics in the traditional sense or even decorated scholars, but have become experts in their own right by experimentation and observation in the old sense of the word ‚scientist’. And by going through sometimes horrendeous ill-health episodes; and when only their own little bit of strength that was left, their determination and will-power would bring them through the toughest of times.
By putting one step in front of the other they made slow and often painful progress on their chosen path.
Each one has chosen her journey to fit in with what she feels strongly about, while accepting the valleys and peaks that make the going sometimes tedious.
They have gathered insight in to the vast area that is called Aerotoxic Syndrome and with this have been, and intend to continue to help affected people; and to educate the public and aviators who are not as aware or try to down-play the issue, about how and by what their health has been damaged , can be damaged and also how to help themselves, where to find proper, independent and qualified help, which tests to get done and where, which doctors to approach and so on.
Now the time has come to join forces and share their experience, wisdom and knowledge in a more compact and easy to understand way to help bring this disastreous situation to its final conclusion.
Many of them. Findings that is, that give evidence that aviatiors have suffered from the same nervous system injury and brain cell damage as a result from inhaling toxic cockpit and cabin air.
Apart from the damage done by the much talked about jet engine oil fume events, there is much more to consider. More toxins.
General Major Harry G. Armstrong BS MD, Director of the United States Aeromedical Research Laboratory stated, that although the inhalation of hot oil fumes had not been mentioned in the literature at the time, several cases had been brought to his attention.
Dear Reader, please note this was in the 1930’s!
Furthermore he stated that the symptoms were very similar to those of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and were at first mistaken for it. He said: „The diagnosis was based on the absence of carbon monoxide in the blood and the discovery that high concentrations of hot oil fumes were present in the cockpit.“
The symptoms cited are very much known to all of us who are affected: headaches, nausea, sometimes vomiting with irritation of the eyes, throat and upper respiratory pathways. If, as aviators are, people are repeatedly exposed to even minimal amounts of these toxins, (Armstrong actually spoke of ‚gas’) they complain about headaches, vertigo, neuromuscular pain, dispnea, palpitations and mental symptoms.
The breakdown products of lubrication oil are methyl aldehyde, para formaldehyde, ethyl aldhyde, with principally the aldehyde acrolein, which is highly toxic to be most likely the causative agent. Armstrong said: „While it is not believed that such high concentrations would ever occur in aircraft, the effects of lower concentrations are obviously sufficient to be dangerous to safety in flight.“
Something that is vehemently being denied by the industry although there is more than enough evidence.
Further, Armstrong stated in 1939 already, that for aviation the only logical method of dealing with this problem was to eliminate carbon monoxide from the cabins and cockpits of aircraft. „The onset of carbon monoxide poisoning is so insidious and its effects so disastrous to one piloting an airplane that preventative measures are the only ones to be relied on.“
Again: this is written in this paper dated 1939!
How long does the aviation industry need to get their act together? It is now over seventy years later! If they had sorted this problem out upon taking Harry G. Armstrong and Henry A. Redall, to name just two highly qualified people seriously, who had warned of the dangers, none of what is happening now would have come to pass!
For them it has become the infamous White Elephant, an inconvenient and increasingly expensive thing that can't be got rid of. And the longer they wait to fix the issue, the worse it will get: thousands of sick flight attendants and pilots! And passengers!
General Major Armstrong and his colleague Heim established that anoxemia resulting from an oxygen saturation of the blood of less than about 88% results in a series of subjective manifestations which they considered to be dangerous in flying personnel. These consist principally of lowered attention, difficulty in concentration and retention, slight muscular incoordination, sleepiness, and mental and physical lethargy.“
Symptoms we hear about about every day from affected crew members!
Imagine sitting in an aircraft, oblivious of the possibility that up front one, or both pilots are struggling trying to keep their faculties together, trying to figure out what to do next? How frightening is that? And no, the Flight Attendants can't land the aircraft - why? Well obviously they are not qualified but mainly because they too are affected ... so who's going to help with the possible emergency landing?
And that is not all.
More in the next blog Text in DEUTSCH
ncontinued from Aviators, Snake Oil Myths & White Elephants
Be very skeptical when you are showered with platitudes of reassurance about the safety of otherwise toxic chemicals from those who stand to profit one way or another from using them or selling them. It can take more than a decade for signals of harm to make themselves noticed – or it can happen with the snip of your fingers: one minute your OK, the next you are very sick and you don’t know what hit you.
We have a very complex problem at play here, which also keeps popping up with those in the industry dealing with contaminated cabin air or the so called „Aerotoxic Syndrome“ health issues, which really is an injury of the central nervous system (CNS) from poisoning .
Problem is: scientists are not doing the right types of studies, especially the scientists on the pay-roll of the airline industry, and physicians and laboratories are not doing the right tests.
Though many studies are running, mostly industrial related - there is still not sufficient literature
on clinical data or showing detailed data which may unravel underlying causes and context factors for the reported health complaints after fume event (accidents).
It's the dynamic effects of toxicants in combination, we have to look for. That has to be the aerotoxic-aircraft-injury toxicology. A toxicology that acknowledges that the cocktail of long term low level doses ( = each breath is a dose) of synthetic toxic chemicals, particularly when combined, can sabotage cellular processes and interfere with the central nervous system and brain function.
The toxic soup in the aircraft breathing air calls for action and , if more studies, then that they have to ask questions about synergy; for inflammatory markers, and individual biochemical susceptability; the acknowledgement that one chemical/toxicant can make you more vulnerable to another, and multiple chemicals can wreak more havoc than individual chemicals alone.
„Heath Ledger and Michael Jackson both died from mixtures of drugs, not from single drugs. Their cases are a warning of what can happen when you take in two or more toxic substances,” says Professor Ravi Naidu. “In contaminated sites we are almost always dealing with mixtures. As we see from the cases of Ledger and Jackson, combinations can sometimes be far more deadly than individual substances. It makes far better sense to assess the risk to human health posed by the combined contaminants, than to look at them one by one.“ (end quote)
This means assessing not only the mixture of chemicals, but which parts of them are capable of reaching crew and passengers via breathing air, fumes in air, smoke in air, smells in air, dust from carpet, airconditioning ducts and seats, and the resulting health effects this might have, respectivally confirming those we have known off for so many years now.
Yes, aircraft cabin air can be contaminated by tricresyl phosphates (TCP) from jet engine oils during fume events. But, the o-TCP, a known neurotoxin, has been addressed for so many years now by some as the one and only culprit to be the agent causing the symptoms reported by cabin crews after fume and smell events, that, sure enough, the airline industry keeps concentrating happiliy on TCP: I think, because they know that it is not the real or only problem, but are using it to pull a veil over our eyes, because it is not as easily detected in body fluids and the air, as are many of the other hazardeous and neurotoxic compounds crew and passengers are exposed to.
But, as Professor Naidu and others also, said: “In contaminated sites we are almost always dealing with mixtures. ...(...) ...combinations can sometimes be far more deadly than individual substances.“
Yes, incidences of visible smoke and invisible fumes, carrying strong toxic smells in aircraft cabins are often a result from burned jet engine oil fumes and/or hydraulic fluid that leak into the ventilation air.
Jet engine oil fumes + hydraulic fumes + flame retardants + kerosene fumes + pesticides + X equals: Cellular disaster and brain damage.
Health complaints reported by air crews can hardly be addressed to o-TCP exposure alone. Elevated metabolite levels for TBP, TCEP and TPP in air crews might occur due to traces from fumes of hydraulic fluid or due to the release of flame retardants from the highly flame protected environment in the airplane, plus the use of pesticide sprays for desinsection purposes, and not to forget the inhalation of kerosene fumes (CO2) and more. There is a build-up of these toxins in the inner environment of the aircraft and can be increased during every flight, one way or the other.
Affected air crew must be tested for a whole combination of individual compounds. They often encounter comments from physicians or laboratories, that such and such a compound is not in the body fluids anymore after a certain period of time. Due to that, they (physicians), seem to think that no damage has been or can be done. Wrong! But it does mean that affected persons must go and get their bloods and urine taken within (best) a 24 hour window after exposure.
For all toxins, the most important storage area is the brain. But all other organs or parts of the body, such as nerves, liver, intestines, glands, heart, kidneys, bones, skin and tumors, also act as storage organs.
The half-life indicates the time after which half of the absorbed toxins are excreted again from the body; for example, it takes 11 years for dioxins and 18 years for mercury in the brain. The total excretion is several times longer, which is particularly important with regard of allergies. Only complete non-exposure to particular and any toxins can facilitate health improvement.
Toxins must neither be detectable from in the private space, nor from in the workplace in any level of concentration in the organism. The current limit values do not take into account the weakest, ie the actual risk groups, and symbolize only industrial interests; they are not biological parameters. The figures of the official limit values always refer to adult healthy men.
These limit values are only valid for healthy adults and only for individual poisons and never for allergic persons.
So: WHO guarantees well-being at low dose exposure to toxins or those with limit values? WHO?
The Ten Deadly Sins of Toxicology*
1. The failure to seek any particular effects at all
2. The use of unsuitable test methods
3. The unfavourable choice of the time of the examination
4. The insufficient exposure of the target organs with the substance to be investigated
5. The incorrect assessment of the experimental findings
6. The disregard of prejudices
7. The inability to record harmful effects correctly
8. The disregard for species studies
9. The disregard of anatomical specificities.
10. Incorrect conclusions from the animal to humans (*list ©from toxcentre.org)
So yes, it is a myth that TCP, or o-TCP is the one and only culprit here: there are many more compounds - compounds that are only found in the aircraft inner environment and can only create such a toxic body burden that causes crew members severe health issues in-flight and long after, due to their constant presence and the crews being exposed to them over long periods of time: up to 100 hours per month. Year after year.
© Bearnairdine Beaumont
(to be continued)
If you feel so inclined, please comment, or share your story.
Pilots. A species which still has a bit of glamour surrounding them. Handsome and dashing looking in their uniforms, they are world travellers, tanned jet setters, fancy hotel occupiers, well paid with lots of free time, always on holidays while doing what they love most: flying.
Nowadays we can read on a practically daily basis: Pilot incapacitated, pilots donned oxygen masks, pilots declare pan-pan-pan emergency, pilots diverted, emergency landing due to pilot suddenly sick, crew acting weird, crew collapsing, pilot and crew members carried off board brought to medical care, emergency room, pilots depressed, pilots fatigued. pilot dies inflight. Plane crashes. Investigations determine: pilot error. Pilot cannot defend himself, pilot is dead. Mayday, mayday, mayday,
Why ‚mayday’ , why distress in the cockpit? Way too often, due to sudden appearance of heated and burned oil / smoke, other toxic fumes or sickening chemical smells, filling the cockpit and cabin’s breathing air.
We can only survive three minutes - approximatly - without any oxygen. If the available oxygen is laced with neuro/toxins, the oxygen is reduced, it has no chance to neutralise the man-made synthetic chemicals. So perhaps the pilots can survive a bit longer, on low O2 while feeling spaced out, dizzy, with diminishing feeling in their limbs, incoherent thinking, not knowing what their next move is to be, with vision problems setting in ... only capable, somehow, of just about remembering the drill to grab their O2 masks as their survival instinct kicks in, gasping for clean air.
Snake oil: if it doesn't help it won't kill you.
‚Snake oil’ = something useless that someone tries to sell you or make you believe is good – just slightly adapted.
As is increasingly the case, toxic fumes are known to cause severe medical emergencies and ensuing health issues, endangering the safety of unsuspecting passengers, not to mention the pilots and cabin crew.
Toxic fumes from the so called bleed-air system, from hydraulic oil fumes, kerosene fumes, pesticide spray mist, flame retardants fumes, de-iceing fluids seeping in, and more. Some of these compounds are listed amongst highly dangerous war-fare agents.
The industry does not like to acknowledge, never mind talk about the concoction of highly toxic fumes entering the cabin breathing air, which can happen while i.e. still standing on-blocks, then off–blocks and during taxi, followed by high–powered take-off thrust heating up engine oils, during which badly serviced or low quality seals and filters too often seem to be unable to do their job, instead, allowing highly toxic fumes to pass in to the breathing air and subsequently in to the lungs of the jet’s occupants. True to snake oil sellers mentality, the industry insists that this is completely harmless and all is well within legal limits.
If we are flying to one of those countries that demand a ‚desinsection’ of arriving jet’s cabins, the crew will spray, either before boarding or take-off in their country of departure, or upon decent before landing, a specially formulated toxic pesticide to kill any hiding bug which could endanger the safety of the entire country we are landing in.
Another highly toxic compound. It kills bugs, depending on the size or type either instantly or slowly. The products declare 'only' 2% active ingredient, but neglect to mention that included propellants like i.e. kerosene compounds (!) actually not only activate but also increase the toxic killing power of the 'active ingredient'.
When much talked about fume events occur, during which fumes can appear as smoke in the cabin, everybody is inhaling a fresh brew, blended from the ‚bleed-air’ containing the jet oil's neurotoxic agents, which is drawn in directly through the engines.
These various fume-concoctions collect and remain in the air within the circulation, stick to the interior aircraft surfaces and seat materials and can build up slowly but surely in the body tissue and fluids, especially of those flying frequently. They can cause severe damage to the central nervous system including the brain. (to be continued) ...
Coming up Next:
The TCP Myth
"When Toxins attack Nerves" now available free download
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When we came on board an aircraft, especially after it had arrived from a long-haul flight, most of us noticed a stuffy, weird, sometimes mouldy smell comparable to a wet dog, or sweaty sock smells as if a whole gym had been on board, and other unpleasant smells, such as vomit. We never knew what it was, wrinkled our noses, commented on it, and sometimes sprayed our own expensive perfumes to cover it up and just got on with our job.
In time I became aware that my uniform smelled awful after flights, so much so I couldn’t bear it! After each flight it had to be hand-washed. Dry cleaning had become impossible since I had noticed that the smell from the dry cleaners caused me sneezing and skin reactions. The horrible musty smell wasn’t removed by dry cleaning anyway; on the contrary, it seemed to increase it. I suddenly had a persistent ringing in my ears. Headaches had become my constant companion, which was unusual for me, and the wheezing and full blown asthma attacks, gasping for breath, were becoming more frequent; only easing when I had several days off between flights.
Allergies to all kinds of things began manifesting as the list grew longer and longer, accompanied in time not only by sneezing, red eyes and sinusitis, but nose bleeds and terribly itchy skin, balancproblems and dizziness. I was also developing a sensitive digestion, which was most annoying. I had always been proud of a digestion and stomach as ‘strong as a horse’s’, but that dramatically changed. The swollen ‘Boeing-baby-belly’ never ceased and certain foods caused severe IBS symptoms.
from the book "The Air I Breathe - it's classified" Amazon
'When Toxins Attack Nerves' available now! FREE download
This is a worth while petition for all aviators, pilots and cabin crew and passengers alike, to support, sign and share PLEASE!
Show your solidarity, your concern and your determination to help your colleagues!
The one and only consultation clinic for toxic fume victims in Germany must be kept in service!
Do you know that when you get off the plane in anticipation of your holiday, but feel dazed and have flu-like symptoms, such as headaches and nausea, you may have become a victim of contaminated cabin air?
As you can see from the media, hardly one day passes without reports about so-called "fume events" in passenger aircraft. Because of some serious health problems, hundreds of affected pilots, cabin crew members and passengers were looking for help at the Work&Environmental Medicine out-patient department of the University Medical Center Göttingen during 2016.
Since mid-2016 there had been an unexpected decline in the number of employees at the centre. Currently, the dedicated "Fume Event" office is manned only with one physician and her research assistant. As a result, the necessary examinations, consultations, writing of reports and follow-up care can only be guaranteed exclusively for patients who have been accepted so far and only with long waiting times.
With effect from 19.12.2016 no acutely affected patients can be accepted due to a resource bottleneck. As a result, the affected person will have the problem, in addition to the possible damage caused by "Fume Event“ exposure and the resulting health issues,
to not have an experienced location for consultations and examination in all of Germany!
PD Dr. Heutelbeck’s team has gained an unparalleled competence over years of research into possible poisoning by toxic cabin air and the illness-related consequences. If victims of contaminated cabin air poisoning are not taken care off within a certain time frame, their health issues can worsen drastically and increases the danger of them loosing their income, lively-hood and their jobs due to ‚loss of license’ (pilots) and loss of medical, first aid and emergency licensure (cabin crew) which results in a forced retirement on medical grounds. Plus as it is for affected passengers, the loss of their good health and ability to work due to nervous system injury and severe lung function problems.
Please support this petition for the sake of "Fume Event" victims and the continuation of professional consultations in the „Labor, Social and Environmental Medicine Outpatient Department“ of the University Medical Center in Göttingen.
For the Future!
GO TO CHANGE.ORG
Aerotoxic syndrome is a phrase coined by scientists in 2000, to describe short- and long-term ill-health effects caused by breathing contaminated airliner cabin air. In instances that are becoming increasingly frequent, contaminants enter the cabin through the air-supply system. Oil leaks can be detected by pungent smells, described as 'wet dog' or 'smelly gym socks', and in more serious events, fumes fill the cabin.
Chemical sensors to detect contaminated air - instead of human noses - would alert pilots and crew to problems, allowing prompt preventive action. The toxicity and neurotoxic properties of organophosphates contained in the jet engine oils have been known about since before the Second World War. The toxins attack the central nervous system (including the brain). Anyone frequently flying is repeatedly exposed and is therefore especially at risk. Various governments and regulatory authorities have commissioned research, which, while admitting an association between contaminated cabin air and chronic health problems, have stopped short of admitting causation. The aviation industry has tended to use the latter set of research (despite its often dubious scientific quality) to deny the existence of the problem, while ignoring the evidence of the independent studies or victims' testimonies.
NEW e-book: 'When Toxins attack the Nerves' available soon!
When Toxins attack the Nerves
Having suffered a toxic injury during my career as an air-crew member and the fact that I am still suffering from various symptoms after inhaling toxic fumes onboard aircraft for years while flying for a major European airline, I have over time learned how to look after myself to improve my health and be able to, at least to a degree, enjoy life again.
Many victims contact me and I way too often see how people struggle with the same health issues and are not finding adequate help, worse, are being ridiculed as hypochondriacs, and some even report having been threatened that they would loose their jobs. Or, if they are being helped they are paying astronomical prices for therapies, often without having relevant tests done beforehand.
My first advise is: spend the money on valid blood tests and other useful analysis methods that will give you proof and evidence of neurotoxic injury. Go to reputable, knowledgable experts. After that, you can, with a little initiative, do a whole lot for yourself without spending a lot of money. The money you save which you would have spent for the professional's fee before even receiving and therapy or having to buy their usually very expensive products, you can spend for healthy foods and therapies and supplements you can get elsewhere at more affordable prices.
But first some information.
During and after flights you have symptoms and are not feeling well, you are even in pain - but your physician can not find a reason?
You could be suffering from a form of environmental health issue similar to sick-building-syndrome: a poisoning from chemicals and toxins. If you have been on a flight or as a frequent flyer on several flights recently or regularly as crew, you could be suffering after inhaling contaminated cabin air. from following symptoms:
All of these symptoms or some of them, can lead to (biomonitoring) findings of organophosphate poisoning. Organophosphates (OP) are neurotoxic agents contained in i.e. jet-engine oils, kerosine fumes, insecticides (spraying on board to certain destinations and residual spraying), hydraulic oils, flame retardants etc.
Crew and passengers, especially frequent flyers are constantly in danger of accumulating, through inhalation and with each breath a new dose, a slowly but surely lethal dose of these neurotoxins in their system , which will deposit itself in the fatty tissue (such as the brain, pancreas etc) . This will lead to constant uncomfortable symptoms and ill-health.
For this to happen one does not need to be exposed to a so called or visible 'fume event' , during which you can see smoke-similar fumes in the cabin; but by regular flying over a longer period of time you will be inhaling with each breathe you take many doses of so called low level chemical 'smells' which are often described as 'old, dirty socks' or 'wet dog' smells but also can smell 'electric' or not at all, all of which actually contain these neurotoxic agents.
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