In aviation the most typical sources of CO are exhaust from: internal combustion engines; aircraft turbine engine exhaust and APU exhaust. Although odourless and tasteless, CO produced from these sources will usually be mixed with other compounds, gases and vapours that can be detected through smell and taste.
Whilst on the ground, CO produced externally can enter cabins and flight decks. It is also possible that exhaust gasses from other aircraft (e.g. positioned in front whilst taxiing or waiting for departure) can enter unfiltered via the bleed-air and air-conditioning system.
Finally a first move has been made by easyJet, who announced (last September) their intention of fitting a new type of filter to avoid contamination - however, they still deny that there is any long-term health injury possible and generally are quoted to say :
“EasyJet is working with Pall (ed = filter manufacturer) to identify and reduce incidents' of unusual smell and fumes in the cabin. These events can have short term effects on health and can lead to flight disruption."...and that ...."the decision to trial the air filtration system had nothing to do with studies linking cabin air with long-term health problems. They insist that: "... independent medical research has found no evidence for any such link”.
Fact: the research they refer to is funded by the industry and 'their' scientists never find anything, or "in such low concentrations that it is impossible to cause any health problems, and certainly none long-term". However, off late the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) stated that: "long-term health effects from cabin air" ... (...) ... such a link “cannot be ruled out”.
See the scientific evidence they tend to ignore here and in the following testimonies.
Preponderance of Evidence
Aerotoxic Syndrome Sufferers' Testimonies
1. I am just one of many.
“I am just one of many. One who has suffered severe poisoning from contaminated cabin air. From many years of experience in dealing with poisoned cockpit, and cabin crew, as well as getting to know passengers, who display typical toxicological symptoms on or after a flight.
I know that there are many like me. I was lucky that, after many years of odyssey, I met very competent and impartial expert Professor Helmuth Müller-Mohnssen. Without him, who was a courageous environmental health expert, I would have certainly died from the effects of multiple nerve poisons I was exposed to during my eleven years of service as a flight attendant. Professor Müller-Mohnssen, the most knowledgeable nerve toxin and pesticide expert, was one of the world’s best scientists in diagnosing a poisoning by nerve agents. I spent months visiting doctors and spending unnecessary time in hospitals for surgeries, diagnostics and ineffective treatment methods. Toxicological evaluation criteria were all simply ignored by attending physicians and flight medics.
Doctors, who despite the severity and the typical toxicological symptoms did not even consider them, subjected me to daily pain and indignities. Instead they shocked me over and over with false diagnoses, such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatism or with prophecies that in no later than 2 years I would die. In 1999, my eleven-year career at Lufthansa, with increasingly occurring long-term illnesses, came to an end and I was declared unfit to fly by my company’s flight medic. Despite better knowledge he did not confirm the diagnosis of severe poisoning and tried to falsify the diagnosis. Ever since I have been fighting for a disability compensation and I try to help others with the same predicament.” (A.I. former LH purser)
2. Another sick aviator who wished to remain anonymous
“Bio monitoring measurements have shown the presence of substances at a six to fifteen times higher rate, in excess of daily exposure and higher than the corresponding official values (MAK maximum workplace concentration) allow. However, these control measurements by MAK are not relevant for us on a public carrier (aircraft) since they were devised for workers in a high hazard workplace environment, who wear protective gear including full face breathing protection, which we do not. Limits or standards for indoor air for these substances do not exist because they (substances) are far too toxic to be allowed indoor; never mind in a hermetically sealed tin (aircraft) If [name of institute and airline withheld] conduct measurements and analyse exclusively on the basis of indoor air issues according to and for public transport, it is no surprise if they find no significant abnormalities, because they would not be looking for them. [Author: Remember what I said earlier in the book? One has to point a finger for e.g. laboratories to search for the right substance.]
“Already an estimated 50 percent of colleagues have trouble with significant peripheral neurological complaints, such as tingling in the fingers, feet, etc., but remain without receiving explanations relating to a possible toxin exposure at work...” (Name known to author.)
3. Case history of aerotoxic sickness experienced by a flight attendant
Since the beginning of my work as an airhostess I have had episodes of a kind of migraine every four to eight weeks. Then I started the day with headaches, which became stronger during the day. In the afternoon hours or evening I started vomiting – often more than 10 times. Usually I had this for one day. During 2013 and 2014 these episodes lasted several days. But after my last flight in 2014 I did not vomit again. Two to three times a year I had a bad cold.
In the summer of 2013 my husband and I spent a short vacation of four or five days at the Baltic Sea. One evening I visited the sauna. I swam a short round in the natural pool they had. I was about to get out but suddenly my body had a mind of its own and threw itself to the left and wenn under the surface without me being able to control it. I didn’t understand at all what was happening in this moment. I fought with my body to get out of there, which was actually an area where I could even stand. But my body did not listen to me and continued to go back to the left and under the surface although stairs were in front of me, I could not get to them. I could not shout or do anything like it. I was lucky – there was a couple sitting not far from where I was. The lady realised that something was wrong with me and sent her husband who pulled me out of the pool, otherwise I would have drowned. As suddenly as my body function had gone to not normal it changed back to normal. So far I had no idea what this was all about.
One day after that summer in 2013 my alarm clock rang. I looked at it – it was spinning around and around and around at a very high speed. About half an hour later the haunting was over.
“I used to go jogging from time to time – not too fast or too long. One day I could not stop anymore but became faster and faster instead. So I decided to will myself to fall down at a certain point as the only way of a ‘controlled’ stop.
“In October 2013 I got strong convulsions in my legs and arms. I stopped working for three months. Suddenly I had extra systoles in the heart and a short but strong headache after drinking simple water. At the end of January I felt better.
“I had an MRI of the head done in October 2013. ‘Hydrocephalus’ was diagnosed. I wondered about that because I knew this from children being born with it. In January I asked the company’s aviation medical examiner if the doctor who diagnosed me was wrong. And the examiner said yes that this diagnose could not be the right one. Later the convulsions disappeared.
“At the end of February I had a very severe cold. I had a retraining on big aircraft in Frankfurt. I only had about six or seven flight days until the 10th April.
Then I had a four or five day’s rotation – my last one on an aircraft. On 14th April we landed in Tel Aviv. I wanted to switch door 1L [first left door front] of an A321 into ‘park’ position. But suddenly the convulsions were back. I looked at the door and couldn’t find the slide handle nor the door handle because everything was white, a big white area in front of my eyes. I turned around in order to go into the cockpit. I looked up to punch in the code but I could not remember it in this moment – after 11 years of flying in the position that placed me at this door, 1L. I also could not remember the telephone number to call the cockpit. I turned back to the door and scanned the door with my hands and hoped to find the handles this way. But I was not successful. The pilots were watching me via cameras. This was the moment for our captain to come out of the cockpit. She sent me into the cockpit. I was not aware of any passengers waiting in the galley. After about half an hour I was quite normal again.
Next day I went home. During the following weeks and months symptoms worsened. In July I could hardly walk, my short-term memory had nearly gone, my thinking had been slowed down very much and I could hardly speak. In my mind I could only find pictures of my childhood, songs of my childhood and so on. Sitting on the couch I let myself fall on the left side without being aware of it. The muscles in my face went slack. Mentally and physically I was handicapped. Within myself I could think but only there. I often fell and lost consciousness for a few seconds. I found out that I didn’t tolerate coffee anymore. From a friend I got strong enzymes that had been fermented over three and a half years. Three weeks after starting to take them I ‘came back’. Today I can walk nearly normal again, I speak normal and the extra systoles in the heart are much less. But often I feel weak, very tired and have strange headaches. Also my legs become tired from time to time. I had three more MRI investigations. The doctors looked for a tumour but could not find any. They spoke about surgery but finally the surgeon said that it is not necessary when I feel like I do now. It would be too risky. I asked him what he wanted to take out of the head if there is no tumour to be found. He did not answer. One doctor who already took part in the autopsies of pilots and flight attendants said that there is damaged brain tissue in my head. The organophosphates in the air of aircraft may trigger an autoimmune disease leading to damaged brain tissue.
My medicine mainly is: linseed oil, coconut oil, MSM, vitamin C, OPC, seeds of stinging nettle and volcano powder. I guess it will take more time to get rid of the remaining symptoms like muscle weakness, headaches, kind of rushing in the ears like being at the ocean, the dizziness and all the other symptoms showing up from time to time.“I spoke with my boss and talked to the airline doctors. The boss said that so many colleagues don’t have the problems I have. I told him that so many colleagues don’t have the problems I have but other major health problems. One airline doctor even yelled at me, how I could spend money on blood investigations by Professor Abou Donia? Though he did not speak of ‘Professor’ but disrespectfully as of a postgraduate whom he would have thrown out because this postgraduate according to him had not done any scientific work...” (Name withheld)
4. Another flight attendant's ill-health following fume events
“I am 44 years old and have been employed since 2000 at a large German airline as cabin staff. In summer of 2013, I experienced within two months, two so-called ‘fume events’, the second with no real smell. In June 2013, a colleague mentioned on a flight from Frankfurt to Berlin an acrid smell at the door of an A321. The captain asked me to check it. I also noticed the smell immediately. Within a few minutes I felt dizzy, got a headache, felt nauseous, with severe abdominal pain, a strong metallic taste and tingling in my hands and certain disorientation. I was barely able to equip our new pots and anyone who has already done this, knows that it is not an intellectual achievement. The colleague at door No. 2 had not been in the rear section of the plane, and she was still good, so she took over my duties. After landing, two colleagues and I were taken to the hospital. I had an exceptionally high blood pressure. In the hospital we were observed for 24 hours and then released. In the urine they nothing was found [surprise!]. Even the medical service of my employer found no exceptional values. In the following weeks how I felt went in waves but uphill. After 5 weeks, I reported back for duty. However, a slight dizziness and nausea accompanied my daily life.
In August 2013 I was re-contaminated on a flight. On board I noticed in myself and other colleagues increasing fatigue, headaches and lack of concentration, but no abnormal smell was noticeable. On the way home, which I can hardly remember, I arrived home and fell into a state of delirium, I literally collapsed. In the following days I still could not concentrate more than only a few minutes at a time. After two days, my partner said, I had to do something because ‘with your eyes closed, you look as if you had just died’. The next three days I spent in a professional hospital. Again, no exceptional values were found, only the oxygen saturation of the blood was slightly below average. I suffered from severe dizziness, visual and audio effects, numb fingers, absolute lack of libido, insomnia, neck pain, headaches and nausea. A state which did not improve for a long time. Three days later an environmental doctor who knew immediately what was wrong took care of me, but too much time had now elapsed to find plane typical poisons, however, there was a high concentration of insecticides found with which aircraft are regularly treated.
Until this summer, I was a sports enthusiast, after these incidents I could hardly get up the stairs. Many detoxifications later and a total avoidance and contact with chemicals such as fragrances, etc., it has taken about 1.5 years in waves to slowly come uphill, and a significant improvement in my condition has taken place. But to date nothing has really changed in the visual effects; I still have a tunnel vision as after excessive alcohol consumption, the tinnitus has remained the right more than left. Some days I have strong muscle twitches in different body areas, almost all joints ache sometimes. The vertigo is weaker, butstill noticeable. My memory performance has improved significantly, but is still below average.
Before I got sick, I had taken heed of the issue of contaminated cabin air only in passing, and had imagined it to happen about as frequently or rarely as a plane crash. Looking back, I certainly had suffered in previous years already from significant toxicity. Permanent respiratory problems, frequent headaches during or after the flights, nausea on board, insomnia at home and during the layover etc. In 2012 I was hospitalised due to severe vertigo, which was then dubbed after diagnosis of exclusion, as neuritis vestibularis, today I rather suspect that it was also a result of contaminated cabin air.” (Anonymous, name known)
5. And another flight-attendant’s story:
We were flying from Frankfurt to San Francisco. During take-off we noticed a weird smell. We did not know what it was but it was so bad I was only able to breathe through my blouse, holding the collar up to my nose. My throat and my nose were burning. Not even the cockpit knew what it was and they called the engineers on the ground. The engineers told us that they cleaned one of the engines and that everything should be all right again if this engine would not provide the cabin with air any more. The cockpit did as they were told. They shut the engine off from providing the cabin with air.
“Me and my colleagues were not sure if we just got accustomed to the smell or if it vanished. I was able to breathe normal again and my throat and nose stopped burning.
“After that we were able to work as usual. Until the descent started. At that time we noticed that weird smell again. The engine we thought was responsible for it was still shut off from providing air. So we did not have an answer for our problem.
I was lucky – at least I thought I was – I did not feel bad in any way.
We were flying back to Frankfurt 48 hours later. The flight was normal. We were all able to work and provide the passengers with a good service. I travelled home by train. On the way I started to feel bad and it got worse. I was able to reach home before I collapsed. I felt sick and dizzy. I felt like that for about four days. After these four days it was better and I was able to work again. I worked for about six months but realised too late that my health was getting worse. I needed more and more sleep, my energy level was very low, I had the feeling of being constantly ill and that my throat was sore all the time. In April I was not able to wake up anymore. I slept about 13-14 hours without feeling recovered at all. I felt aggressive. I got horrible headaches, felt dizzy and had no energy, was tired all the time, could not think any more, could not concentrate, I was just not able to live my daily life.
“I consulted with one doctor after the other to find out what was wrong with me. But no one could help me. My family doctor tried to get help from my employer’s medical service but they just told him that they could not help at all. They didn’t find any bacterial or viral infection to explain my sore throat nor did I have any allergies. I needed strong painkillers because the normal ones didn’t help my headaches anymore. No one could explain why I was sleeping so much without feeling recovered. I also consulted a psychologist. I spent all my money for tests and doctors to get an explanation and a cure, but to no avail.
“More than a year later I finally found physicians who were able to tell me what the problem was. One told me that all my symptoms were a result from smelly fumes I inhaled on the plane. And he found toxins in my blood which caused all the symptoms and still do, and there is no antidote. I found out that there was a treatment that filters blood to cleanse it from toxins. I was able to go for two treatments. After these two treatments some symptoms got a little better and my energy level also improved. But the symptoms are still there. I still can’t concentrate for long, I have a tremor and a nervous twitch in some muscles, bad headaches – often nothing helps against these headaches and sometimes they last for days – my legs hurt and feel heavy, I get tired very fast and my energy does not last long, I still need too much sleep (about 10 hours), my memory got very bad, I forget things fast and sometimes I can’t even remember what I was saying two minutes ago, sometimes I want to say something but I can’t find the words, my hands and feet are always cold, I can’t feel cold in my fingers it just hurts, most of the time I feel like I have the flu but there is no virus or bacteria. I have been fighting for three years to get my health and my life back. My company says nothing happened. They ignore me and my symptoms.” (Staying anonymous because of fear of retribution.)
Frequent flyers can be as badly affected as crew since they fly a lot, mothers-to-be and children are very much in danger of being poisoned, and the unborn and children with their still developing bodies, brains and nervous systems can be severely damaged! (read more here)
Preponderance of evidence is the greater weight of the evidence required to decide in favor of one side or the other. This preponderance is based on the more convincing evidence and its probable truth or accuracy, and not on the amount of evidence. (source)
There are hundreds if not thousands of such case-studies and medical stories collected over the past decades, and more piling up daily: affected pilots, flight attendants and passengers!
How many more do they need?
If you wish to share your story and add even more weight to our evidence, please email me! Confidentiality is guaranteed!!
Testimonies are excerpts from :
The Air I Breathe – it’s Classified by Bearnairdine Beaumont
available at Amazon worldwide >view links in side-bar>
2015 © Copyright - All Rights : Bearnairdine Beaumont
After becoming unfit to fly and being medically 'retired' Bearnairdine became involved in scientific research for the campaign 'improve the quality of aircraft cabin air' and the helping of victims to understand their ill-health; coming from a medical background she is also a health consultant & educator with over 25 years professional and personal experience ; she is a published author of three books in two languages and the founder of the " AEROTOXIC TEAM" and 'Global Aerotoxicteam', educational website and socialmedia pages. She not only became unfit to fly, but also unable to work in her former profession due to her severe central nervous system injury; she receives a small disabilty allowance and is still fighting to receive her workplace related ill-health pension. She lives in a beautiful, but secluded area of the Swiss alps and continues to support the aerotoxic campaign via computer and telephone. She is available for media inquiries.
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