Subject: Crew and Passenger exposure to organophosphates on aircraft.
Friday 25th May 2018
Dear Mr. Cruz,
For several decades BASSA has been raising with the company our concerns about our members repeated exposure to contaminated air on aircraft and the significantly higher cancer rates we see in our members compared to the population average. All of our requests to be shown a company risk assessment in this regard have been denied for over 20 years and our members continue to be exposed to contaminated air on a daily basis.
The company response to our concerns has always been on the lines of “We would not operate an aircraft if we believed it posed a health or safety risk to our customers or crew.” Following on from the BA 286 Airbus A380 diversion of late 2016, a large number of our members have carried out swab tests, on the inside of the aircraft surfaces of the entire British Airways fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft. The primary objective of this project, carried out in partnership with the GCAQE (Global Cabin Air Quality Executive),was the analysis and quantification of tributyl phosphate (TBP – CAS No. 126-73-8) and tricresyl phosphate (TCP – CAS No. 1330-78-5) isomers.
The results show that the level of TBP ranged from a low of 5.6 nanograms per wipe to a high of 108.9 nanograms per wipe.These values indicate that the entire fleet of aircraft shows measurable quantities of TBP, which is likely linked to hydraulic fluid contamination of the air within the cabin. Hydraulic fluid used on British Airways aircraft comes from Skydrol LD4 Fire Resistant Hydraulic Fluid or similar products which contain 55-65% TBP.
The MSDS for these products have various health hazards, such as:
Skin Corrosion / Irritation – Category 2 – H315: Causes skin irritation.
Carcinogenicity – Category 2 – H351: Suspected of causing cancer. As well as the clear statement: “Do not breathe mist or vapour from heated material.”
You will be aware that the placing of a substance in Category 2 is done on the basis of evidence obtained from human and/or animal studies. The results from the single ion chromatograms for TCP showed that all samples, except one, had measurable quantities TCP. The highest was 41.4 nanograms per wipe.
These results indicate that the air from most of these aircraft is also contaminated with TCP isomers that are specific to commonly used jet turbine oils. Jet engine oil used on British Airways aircraft is typically Eastman 2380, Mobil Jet Oil II or similar products which contain around 3% TCP, around 2.5% N-phenyl -1 – naphthylenamine (CAS No.90-30-2) and other ingredients.
The MSDS for these products have various health hazards including:
Suspected of damaging fertility;
Suspected of damaging the unborn child.
Two of the stated pillars or commitments of the British Airways corporate responsibility programme are:
To promote wellbeing and inclusion;
To conduct business responsibility.
Yet, British Airways is failing in so many ways. It is failing to:
Routinely monitor the air onboard its aircraft to ensure they comply with CS. 1309c, CS.25.831, CSE -510 etc;
It is failing to provide our crews with a safe working environment;
Failing to protect our customers, the travelling public, especially the unborn, the young and the elderly from being exposed to contaminated air;
Address the higher cancer rates in our members;
Comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSW) 1974, related regulations such as COSHH and the management of HSW regulations;
Action European directives regarding chemical safety;
Implement ICAO guidelines contained in Circular 334, in relation to education, training and reporting of fume events;
Carry out a safety case analysis as part of SMS requirements.
Easyjet have placed an order for the new Pall Aerospace Pure Cabin filtration and sensor system, as have Spirit Airlines in the US.Their entire A320 fleets will have this new system, airlines clearly with corporate vision and care for their passengers and employees. Easyjet have also changed to an oil with a potentially less toxic profile supplied by NYCO and are also installing BASF VOC/Ozone catalytic converters on all its aircraft.
We formally request that the board take the decision within the next 60 days to agree to order the new Pall Aerospace filtration system for all our A320 aircraft and work with the manufacturers to adapt the technology to the other British Airways aircraft, that use the archaic system of using bleed air as a source of breathing air. Yes there will be a cost to installing this system but the company has a duty of care to its staff and customers to ensure they are not exposed to suspected carcinogens and chemicals that are a risk to the unborn and fertility. Especially, when a technical solution to prevent this exists.
A blood test will in the near future be available for passengers and crews to finger prick themselves before and after a flight to confirm exposure to aryl phosphates onboard aircraft. The potential liability claims could be staggering and therefore the sooner an effective filtration system is installed the better it will be for our airline and our share price.
Concerned BASSA members.