Aerotoxic syndrome is a phrase coined by Chris Winder and Jean-Christophe Balouet in 2000, to describe short- and long-term ill-health effects caused by breathing contaminated airliner cabin air. Modern jetliners have an environmental control system (ECS) that manages the flow of cabin air. Outside air enters the engines and is compressed in the forward section. A portion of that compressed bleed air is used to pressurise the cabin. In instances that are becoming increasingly frequent, contaminants enter the cabin through that air-supply system.
The toxins attack the central nervous system including the brain.
If a bearing seal fails and begins to leak, some of the engine oil can be released into the compressed air stream. 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 which is known as fume event. As bleed air is not presently filtered, installation of bleed air filtration systems would eliminate the problem, although a technically efficient system does not yet seem to have been developed. Chemical sensors to detect contaminated air in the bleed air supplies - instead of human noses - would alert pilots to problems, allowing prompt preventive action.
It's not easy to predict how different exposures may affect different people, due to the genetic variability of individuals. Depending on detoxifying efficiency, the adverse health effects may be cumulative. Therefore, anyone frequently flying (which means once or more a week) is repeatedly exposed and is therefore especially at risk. Even after a serious fume event, it is possible that no symptoms show initially, but a few days later ill health associated with Aerotoxic Syndrome may kick in.
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, about which this book tells one of many stories.
The first well-documented case was of a C-130 Hercules navigator becoming incapacitated after breathing contaminated cabin air in 1977. The neurotoxic properties of organophosphates have been known about since before the Second World War. The toxicity of heated jet oil was known from 1954. Numerous independent scientific studies have produced clear evidence of contaminated cabin air being the cause of chronic health problems.The toxins attack the central nervous system (including the brain).
Circumstances can have a force, sweeping us up by events, which we do not understand and are powerless to stop. Things can happen and you feel them happening, but you have no connection to them and certainly no key to the cause or the meaning of them.
'It was the romance of the skies. You could take off and be in another world...'
Africa........One night a buzzer alerting us to wildlife approaching woke us. Looking out of my window I was practically eye-to-eye with a magnificent elephant that had come for a drink at the water hole. He seemed to be staring at me, lightly flapping his ears, his huge tusks nearly touching the floor.
We were ushered via a loud whisper coming from the loud speaker in the wall of each room, to the thatched central dining area with its rock-built bar and a viewing terrace looking directly on to the waterhole. One by one, but also in small groups the beautiful beasts of Africa appeared.
My book has been added to and included in the Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries UK and Eire (quote) 'as a valuable addition to the collections of these libraries'. It is also available worldwide on Amazon as paperback, hardback and kindle version - thanks for supporting me/ us in our constant striving to create public awareness of Aerotoxic Syndrome.
Take Off April 1977
Spring was in the air as I walked down the right aisle of the huge Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet in my brand new dark-blue uniform dress and jacket, navy-blue high heels, the silver “wing” and name badge with blue lettering pinned to the left lapel, and the yellow and blue striped scarf tied neatly around my neck. My long mahogany coloured hair was piled up on my head and pinned in to a 'banana', and my make up was perfect. I looked, smiling, to the left and the right, pretending to be doing the pre-take-off seat belts check, just minutes before the passengers’ actually boarded flight 401 to New York. I was so excited! My very first flight and to New York!
A gorgeous silvery blue, very big butterfly had landed out of nowhere on my lower arm. They told me its name was 'Blue Beauty' and it sat there daintily cleaning itself... I hardly dared to breathe!