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.
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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Research Gate: Aerotoxic Syndrome and Low Level Exposure to Nano Particles. 2013.
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