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22nd April 2013:
Open Letter to Lord Attlee from Aerotoxic Association
16th April 2013:
Contaminated Cabin Air (German) by Tim van Beveren)
29th June 2011:
Airsense Analytics oil fume detector
A Dismal Ending
The day had arrived to head home. After a glorious month in Europe and the Mediterranean I reluctantly packed my bags and boarded the shuttle to the Venice airport. I can’t say I enjoy flying as over the years the seating has become cramped and the wait time lengthy. Passengers wiggle into their narrow seats, ducking the overhead; it becomes a test of endurance on long flights. This was my first flight with Lufthsansa, however, air travel is not new to me; currently I write a newspaper travel column. I have disabilities and thus see the world via cruise ships and their shore excursions. Hopefully my column gives others with disabilities inspiration to travel. The leg from Venice to Frankfurt was average. Changing planes to an A330-300 airbus I noted the plane seemed fairly new. My seat, unfortunately, was way back in the rear, 43D; a challenge with disabilities. The plane was quite full except for an occasional seat and the seat next to me. I gathered two pillows and prepared for a long nap. I awoke for beverages and then to an announcement stating we were going to be 45 minutes early for our Detroit arrival. Well, that made me smile! Back to sleep again and this time I awoke to preparation for landing. I rounded up my shoes, put the pillows in the empty seat next to me and searched my purse for a lipstick tube. Once on the ground an announcement was made that Detroit had no open gates for us and we would have to wait 15 minutes. I thought no problem, we are still early.
At some point, not too long into the 15 minutes, fumes poured into the cabin; potent, engine smelling fumes. My eyes, nose and throat became dry, parched. I have never experienced any thing like this before; I had difficulty swallowing. Soon my lungs took on the same dryness. It became painful. Several times I attempted to adjust the over head air knob but it would not move. No crew was in sight and repeatedly announcements were made to stay in our seat. I cupped my hands over my nose and mouth. Still the fumes were sharp and painful. Passengers started to cough. A baby cried constantly. I pickup the pillow and placed the pillowcase over my face. Another announcement was made that it would be another 10 minutes before a gate was open. My tongue was sticking to my cheek. It seems my thinking had gotten a bit fuzzy by then. All I recall from that point is finally gathering my laptop from the overhead, noting the people behind me were not standing up, and following passengers to deplane. I recall I was quite a distance behind the people in front of me; I must have been slow. I noted surprisingly that as I move forward in the plane the fumes dissipated and the crew were saying ‘goodbye’ as if nothing had happened.
As I walked toward ‘customs’ I felt wobbly, clumsy. I got on the moving sidewalk and proceeded to walk as fast as I could as I felt ill. I seem to recall there were few passengers in sight. I spotted a woman squatting against a wall and another woman standing over her. I got off the moving sidewalk and proceeded toward them. I was feeling so wobbly that companionship seemed a good choice. I ask “Are you OK?” She shook her head no; never looking up at me. “Are you sick from the fumes?” She shook her head yes; again not looking up. I spotted an attendant pushing two wheelchairs; one was empty. He headed our way and asked if we needed help. I responded “Yes, but you need to take her first.” The woman raised her hand over her head and waved us away; no. The woman standing responded “She is embarrassed”. It is quite likely she was nauseous. I recall a heavy accent; possibly German. I sat down in the empty wheelchair and attendant proceeded toward customs. I recall saying “I think I am going to pass out!” He asked if I needed a paramedic and I responded “yes”. I’m fairly sure I didn’t pass out but everything gets fuzzy from then until I left the airport. I know I was given oxygen and I started to think clearer. I recall my blood pressure and pulse were very high but my oxygen saturation was good. I had someone waiting at the curb to drive me home to Port Huron. I said no to going to a hospital with the paramedics. My home is two blocks from my hospital in Port Huron. The idea of a hospital in Detroit had no appeal. As we started the drive to Port Huron, Tony mentioned that the paramedics had told him there were five passengers feeling ill from fumes.
When I arrived home I just wanted to go to bed. I had a crushing headache on the top of my head and my lungs were very painful. I recall telling Tony it felt like I had ‘inhaled razorblades’. I took a vicodin and went to bed. The next day I still had the crushing headache and very painful chest. I took another vicodin. I had no appetite. Food actually seemed repulsive. I called Lufthsansa, and no matter how much I insisted on speaking with someone, was told all problems and complaints had to be written to their office. I found their web site and emailed my problem. I spent the day in bed. The second day I recognized that I was getting worse, having developed a very deep, rattling cough. The headache was starting to lessen but my chest was in agony. I headed to my physician’s office. From then until now, some six weeks later, I have battled extremely high blood pressure and pulse rate. I have been hospitalized for several days, and now have a lung specialist following my slow progress. The headache on the top of my head is gone. My blood pressure and pulse have lowered. My lungs, however, are still struggling to recover, but progress seems to have hit a plateau. I have a new voice that is deep and scratchy. Fatigue has set in and is overwhelming. The neurological problems I had before the fume incident have increased, such as migraines, balance and coordination. I have new ‘stuff’! I get visual disturbances, I now stumble with my right foot. I am so forgetful that it is difficult to describe, and I’m increasingly clumsy. Even the smallest task is challenging and fatiguing. My life has been turned inside out. I can no longer putter in my garden or walk up the stadium stairs, let alone yell, at a baseball game. I have been robbed of my summer and have to constantly apologize for spilling or dropping things. And I itch! Somedays I feel like my wardrobe is made of fiberglass as I constantly itch and it is moves over my body but not on my head, arms or legs!
It is now April 2008, almost the anniversary date of my 'toxic fumes' experience. I continue to travel the world and write my weekly newspaper column but everyday life and travel is not the same as before the fumes. I now have an 'updraft' machine that I need for 'painful lung days' to medicate my lungs. I carry an additional purse aerosol inhaler. I can once again yell at baseball and hockey games - smile! My voice is strange only about 40% of the time. I have withstood high dollar prescription medicines. I now have what is termed as 'reactive airway' with full blown asthma as a result of the fumes. I wanted to have elective surgery this month on a protruding vein on my lip but it has been permanently canceled as two different anesthetists turned the surgery down due to my chemically burned lung condition from the toxic aircraft fumes. Vanity get second place to breathing!!!