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Aerotoxic Syndrome

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Since a flight on a US Airways Boeing 757 early in 2008, Washington State resident Annie Estes suffers frequently with tremors. She believes she was poisoned by oil fumes in the aircraft cabin. Also Sylvia Gassner is sure she was poisoned by contaminated cabin air. The young flight attendant has symptoms during and after flights. Spatial disorientation, pounding headaches, chronic fatigue, falling asleep during conversations, numb hands, shaking, loss of memory. For some time she has suspected that these symptoms ... are related to the air on the aircraft. Since last year she is sure about it. At that time plusminus reported on toxic cabin air for the first time. The problem: with all modern aircraft the cabin air ... is bled directly off the engines. Without filters. Heated oil fumes may therefore enter the breathing air supply. A mix of toxic chemicals. Among those, betanaphtylamine which is carcinogenic ... and tricresyl-phosphate, TCP, a potent neuro-toxin. Airlines and manufacturers claim: plusminus is exaggerating, that there is no problem. But experts have warned: It is a very powerful toxin and its effects are so shocking, that everything should be done to avoid exposure. That was a year ago. What has happened since? Does the industry take the issue more serious today? June 27th,2009. An Air Berlin Boeing 737 on its way to Greece, has to return to Düsseldorf due to strong oil smells. August 5th ,2009: shortly after take off the crew of a Eurowings BAe 146 ... declares an emergency because of fumes in the cockpit and returns to Frankfurt. The passengers are rebooked on other flights, the pilots go straight to the nearest hospital. Decemeber 22nd: the crew of a Condor Boeing 757 ... experience oil smells during take off. Despite that the flight continues to Fuerteventura. In none of these cases were the passengers informed ... about the cause and the possible health effects. But these do exist. Example: Sylvia Gassner. After the plusminus reports she and many of her colleagues consulted their doctors. They do not feel they are being taken seriously ... by their employers and the workers compensation insurer. The so-called “aerotoxic syndrome” is still only known about by a few specialists. We are seeing an increase in cases. The critical peak will soon be reached, and then aerotoxic syndrome can not be downplayed any more ... or rejected as only occurring in isolated cases. Downplayed and rejected? Last year we found high amounts of TCP in swab samples in aircraft belonging to Condor. The company now refers to their own measurements: “TCP was not present in any of our extensive air samples tests. Swab samples did not show a hazard to the health of our employees or passengers.” A clean bill of health for Condor? Even so, documents obtained by plusminus prove that 19 percent of these swabs ... were positive for the neurotoxin TCP, so the management admits. Furthermore, the employee representation noted that the Condor measurements ... were questionable as they showed “some deficiencies ... in the methodology, the reporting and the documentation.” Sylvia Gassner is not reassured by the company’s data. A few months ago a US specialist analysed her and her colleagues’ blood. In all samples he concluded that they “show neurological damage.” Condor declined an interview on camera. We were told by email: “For Condor the safety and health of Passengers and crew has always highest priority.” We confront Sylvia Gassner with this statement. How are they treating people here? Not humanely. Not even animals should be treated this way. Nobody should be treated this way. Incidents with contaminated air have to be reported to the authorities. In March 2009 we already proved that many cases were not reported. The Civil Aviation Authority has told us ... that there have been only 15 incidents since then. The Accident Investigation Branch deals with different figures. I have to conclude that we still do not get all the reports. This is indicated by the fact we are now receiving reports in an unusual way: directly from concerned flight crews and their unions. plusminus found out that only in January this year 44 incidents ... were filed by Condor workers, and not by the airline's operations staff. It seems that German airlines still disregard their obligation to report. The issue is still being downplayed. This is a concern to us as so much is at stake. It is about the health of crews and our passengers ... and we believe it is vital to explain and research the causes. Since last week Sylvia Gassner, 27 years old, is permanently unable to work. Doctors are only slowly deciphering the toxic cocktails in her blood. The latest finding: beryllium. This toxic metal is used in turbine engines. She should not fly on any aircraft any more, not even as a passenger.

Video Details

Duration: 6 minutes and 32 seconds
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Producer: Tim van Beveren
Director: Tim van Beveren
Views: 101
Posted by: aerotoxicassociation on Mar 19, 2010

'plusminus' reported on toxic fumes in aircraft cabins for the first time a year ago. These fumes can affect passengers and crew and appear to cause serious illness. What has happened since? First shown in German on ARD's 'plusminus'

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