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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
I used to love my job as a pilot and enjoyed going to work. When I was called by my company and asked if could do extra duties, I was usually happy to help as I found the work satisfying and the extra pay was always appreciated.
“My symptoms worsened, became more frequent and long-lasting, and new ones began to appear”
From about two and a half years ago things started to change. I would get fatigued more than I used to, and often after a long duty I would notice a slight light-headed feeling when I got home.
Sometimes I would report to work feeling quite good, but in the aircraft I would begin to feel tired even before we had taken off on the first flight. Latterly this tiredness would often be accompanied by a feeling of not "being oneself" and a sensation of being somewhat detached from what's going on. On one occasion the first officer looked at me and asked "Are you OK, you seem a bit distant?" I told him I did feel a bit odd. On that occasion I felt better soon after takeoff.
As time went on, the fatigue got worse and I was finding it usually wouldn't improve with exercise or a good sleep. I felt my short-term memory was getting worse, and had trouble remembering details such as if we'd received takeoff or landing clearance. Sometimes it was as if thoughts would just evaporate. I had trouble processing more than a couple of pieces of information at a time, so found it difficult to follow a complex procedure in the aircraft, or to contribute to a debate or to pick out a conversation in a crowded room.
Although I had heard of the contaminated cabin air problem and knew that the aircraft I was flying (BAe 146) was top of the list, I didn't think much of it at the time. I thought my poor memory was just a function of getting old and that the fatigue was part of the job.
As other problems started to appear, including muscle twitching and tremors, it started to become clear that this was not normal, and I began to look into the cabin air quality issue. My symptoms seemed to fit what others were reporting.
At this point I changed onto the 757 & 767. My symptoms worsened, became more frequent and long-lasting, and new ones began to appear, such as breathing difficulties and chest tightness. I was often exhausted on my days off and as the feeling of "not being onself" got worse, my motivation to do things was being taken away. On one particular flight which would otherwise have been very pleasant, I remember just wanting to be not there, and longing to get on the ground and go home.
When I had a couple of weeks off, some symptoms would subside only to return when I went back to work.
By this stage I was starting to realise that I couldn't carry on much longer, as my health was going downhill and I was becoming unsafe. As I researched more, it became clear that I was suffering from Aerotoxic Syndrome, and I got in touch with the Aerotoxic Association.
I stopped flying a year ago, and although some of my symptoms have more or less disappeared, many linger. I am still left with bouts of fatigue that can last a short time, or days, and I still can't think clearly - my brain is in a fog. Sometimes I feel OK, and have a reasonable amount of energy and interest in things, but I still feel "odd" and unmotivated a large amount of the time.
Thank you to John at the Aerotoxic Association for all your help and support.