Call for Aerotoxic Independent Public Inquiry
Tuesday 22nd May 2018 marks news of an international call by Norfolk, UK based Aerotoxic Association for all evidence, both positive and negative, concerning acute and chronic ill health experienced by the public following toxic oil fume exposure in commercial jets known as Aerotoxic Syndrome to be formally directed to the International Criminal Court at The Hague, The Netherlands for an Independent Public Inquiry on whether the known technical solutions should be urgently introduced in bleed air jet airliners, on the precautionary principle and in the public interest.
On 17th March 2016 UK MP’s repeatedly called for an independent public inquiry into Cabin Air Safety/Aerotoxic Syndrome:
Since 1953, when high pressure ‘bleed air’ was first used to pressurise high flying jet aircraft cabins, it has been openly documented that human exposure to toxic oil fumes causes ill health in humans – it doesn’t matter whether a pilot, cabin crew, passenger or child – anyone can be ‘gassed’ on any jet airliner flight, (except for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner).
Over the past 65 years there have been countless studies confirming ill health which in 1999 finally led a US doctor and scientists from France and Australia to identify both the acute and chronic illness specifically as ‘Aerotoxic Syndrome’.
This illness is caused by exposure to contaminated air in commercial jets. Industry and governments have systematically denied any association with jet airliners, as everyone agrees it would lead to serious financial compensation claims from countless numbers of injured members of the public.
The industry is skilled at commissioning and paying for convenient studies, which seem to prove to not well-informed politicians, that the breathing air found in most jet airliners is safe – as it clearly is not. But they have repeatedly failed to publish the chemical concentrations of the oil fumes, which can be visible as white smoke or haze, but can also be non-visible and are deemed to be ‘difficult to test’. Daily reports about ill health symptoms by fumes witnessed by aircrew contradict such statements, suggesting that a cover-up of basic evidence has been agreed upon between governments, industry, industry doctors and certain scientists who are literally paid to prove that chemical exposure is somehow not harmful. Aircraft manufacturers and oil companies have unlimited amounts of money and influence.
Aircrew and passengers are carried off oil fume filled airliners and taken by ambulances to hospitals’ emergency rooms for treatment. Within the past 12 months, the UK Civil Aviation Authority has finally conceded a causal link to acute symptoms, but illogically refuses to accept that multiple acute exposures would inevitably lead to long-term chronic ill health. This would cause grave difficulties for all airlines, as an oil fume event can occur on any flight and affect any member of the public – whether staff or customer.
In the 1950’s, when jet travel first began, aircraft engineers had to find a way of pressurising cabins. The new jets flew to around 30,000ft where the air is thin but where the fuel consumption is greatly reduced and the weather is less turbulent. Engineers correctly reasoned that air pumps should be used to pressurise the cabins by pressurising the ‘outside’ air with mechanical air pumps. This is how the early jets such as the Boeing B707 and DC8 were pressurised with no oil contamination possible, as air was sucked into the pumps from the outside.
But the mechanical air pumps were not reliable, causing airliners to have to divert and fly below 10,000ft. When the pressurisation failed, which the 1950’s mechanical pumps did with regularity, a longer-term fix was required.
In 1962 Boeing led the way into the future with the use of ‘bleed air’ air. Bleed-air is highly compressed air being piped off from around half way down the jet engine to pressurise the cabins in the then new Boeing 727. Already at that time the engineers knew that the 1953 scientists had concluded that ‘bleed air’ was fundamentally unsafe for cabin ventilation as it could become contaminated with toxic jet engine oil and affect any human beings who were exposed. Fact is, it was and is a fundamental design flaw.
However, the simplicity of the new system and obvious cost savings along with the fact that most people in the 1960’s smoked cigarettes in aircraft meant that odd oil fumes were not smelled and could be dismissed as minor inconveniences, and the prevailing opinion was that low concentrations of toxic contaminants would be generally of no harm to human health.
A fundamental mistake was made despite its recognition in 1953. Filters were not installed to remove contaminants, which were in the bleed-air, nor were chemical detectors used, as would be done in any other confined space. This was confirmed in an investigative documentary film produced in Germany in 2015, called ‘Unfiltered Breathed In – The Truth about Aerotoxic Syndrome’.
This documentary film followed the 2007 film ‘Welcome aboard Toxic Airlines’ by Fact not Fiction Films that featured many international witnesses and evidence. The film accurately covered both the problem and the known solutions over ten years ago.
The term ‘jet lag’ was coined in the 1960’s when passengers felt exhausted after a long flight crossing time zones; the question is why are humans also exhausted after not crossing time zones and on domestic flights? This can now be explained by the knowledge of an early cover-up of chemical poisoning by inhalation.
Engine oil is used to lubricate the bearings in a jet. The basic design flaw of ‘bleed air’ causes the outside air and oil to mix within the engine and for the now oil contaminated air mixture to be transported into the cabin.
The so-called ‘seals’ in the jet engines are not absolute seals; instead they are more like membranes allowing a positive flow of oil fumes into the cabin.
The synthetic jet engine oil contains anti-wear additives, one of which is known as Tricresyl Phosphate which is an organophosphate at around 3-5% by volume The synthetic jet engine oil also contains organophosphate neurotoxins similar to that used in chemical warfare agents. This compound is an anti-friction additive to help resist breakdown in the high pressure, high temperature environment found in engines.
Organophosphates (OP’s) were first developed as warfare nerve agents by Germany in the 1930’s & 1940’s.These substances are dangerous to health. Passengers and crew exposed to such fumes containing these highly toxic substances can be severely affected and sustain (irreversible) nervous system injuries.
Poisonings by chemical mixtures containing organophosphates and other neurotoxic and cancerogenous substances have been clearly linked with aircrew and passengers’ ill health over the past twenty years. But governments simply claimed that the air tested at 30,000ft could not possibly be poisonous since, according to them, the amounts of nerve agents were ‘low’ or below ‘legal limits’. All toxicant related health issues of any nature incurred in the aircraft cabin are universally denied without adequate investigation. To this day governments have still not published the high concentrations of neurotoxic substances in visible (and invisible) oil fumes in passenger cabins, which photographic evidence clearly confirms occur regularly.
As a BAe146 pilot I and other aircrew frequently witnessed visible oil fumes on the ground before flying each day. Evidence was featured in a BBC Panorama documentary of 21st April 2008 ‘Something in the air’ and specifically described by Captain Julian Soddy whilst being filmed at Norwich airport in front of old BAe 146’s in 2008.
Within a few months of beginning to fly the airliner in 1989, my once excellent health was ruined. I became a vegetable type zombie at the age of 35.I still flew all over Europe as an airline pilot until in 2005, at 49, when I became unfit to fly any aircraft.
In the above-mentioned BBC documentary around 60 UK passengers (including young children) from flight XLA 120 were featured who had all become suddenly, seriously ill on a single, supposedly ‘no-fume-event-flight’ on 1st February 2007. These passengers were filmed while preparing to sue in the US and featured US attorney Stuart Calwell. Mr Calwell had coincidentally presented evidence at a Union conference in London on 21st April 2005 identifying a serious cause of acute and chronic public illness amongst flight crew (both pilots and cabin crew), which required urgent attention of government, aviation regulators, the airline and aerospace industry.
There was also concern that passengers may be suffering from similar symptoms as those exhibited by flight crew.
Capt. Julian Soddy of BALPA had chaired this international conference , which was sponsored by BALPA the Union and PALL Aerospace, who manufacture filters for bleed air systems.
How did the 60 UK passengers progress with their public court case which was noted to have been a ‘great victory for the passengers’ on 3rd May 2010 by their then lawyers, London based ‘Stewarts Law’? See ‘Stewarts Law’ evidence attachment dated 3.5.2010.
This question was recently asked in a media press release by the Aerotoxic Association Ltd., but the BBC failed to respond as did every other media organisation in the UK, leading to the assumption that the subject ‘Aerotoxic Syndrome’ is banned from media interest in the UK, therefor denying the public’s right of knowledge of evidence which is in their interest.
Remarkably, an article about the inconvenient issue of Cabin Air Quality was published in the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) in the March 2018 magazine. David Learmount, the author, a former Flight International aviation journalist who ‘worked out’ that Aerotoxic syndrome exists in around 2006 was also not allowed to use the term Aerotoxic Syndrome in his three page ‘aviation establishment’ article , yet he wrote a compelling Foreword to my book ‘Aerotoxic Syndrome – Aviation’s Darkest Secret’ published by Pilot Press in 2014.
It is known that the XLA 120 passengers were sent an e-mail by ‘Stewart’s Law’ in 2012 just before more public Court action in the US, but it was only to tell the still suffering passengers five years after their poisoning flight, that their case had been suddenly abandoned.
Why did the BBC not report how this high profile public Court case concluded?
Evidence will be presented to the International Criminal Court at The Hague and can be found in the form of both positive and negative scientific papers at www.aerotoxic.org. Since 2007 the Aerotoxic Association has accumulated around 275.000 e mails from around 2.500 victims worldwide who have reported serious ill health immediately following exposure to oil fumes in the confined space of bleed air powered jet airliners.
There is no doubt that this is inconvenient evidence which is deliberately being ignored by the authorities trying to reassure the public that human exposure to toxic oil smoke in a confined space is somehow … not harmful. Recently, an airline safety director in the US has been trying to persuade pilots that cabin fumes are not dangerous and that engine oil “is harmless and safe to drink”. A physician/toxicologist was recruited who agreed with this conclusion and was willing to say so in court for a fee.
There are many parallels with the tobacco industry. It took decades for tobacco smoke to be recognised and blamed for human ill health to the point that now it would be unimaginable to light up a cigarette in an aircraft. Cigarette smoke is now acknowledged to be the cause of ill health. Exposure to toxic oil fumes is comparable to inhaling smoke from 1000 cigarettes all at once and yet – this exposure is officially not dangerous.
In the 1950’s tobacco companies put filters into their cigarettes knowing they had a problem. By filtering the smoke they bought time before cigarette smoke was outlawed in public places due to recognised health issues.
Bleed air is not filtered; so using the comparison to the cigarette industry the present airline industry is clearly still in the 1950’s. Filtering bleed air is not easy to achieve, as it is under high pressure and extremely hot temperatures, and any filter would be quickly blocked with contaminants.
Interestingly, easyJet decided in 2017 to fit bleed-air filters; not because they wanted to do so, but because the owners and directors are being sued in a Paris criminal Court by three of their aircrew employees who suffered serious ill health from repeated oil fume exposures, and have successfully persuaded a French public court to force easyJet to comply with the known and reasonable solutions.
The law has a frightening reality when it comes to wrong doing by Big Business, by virtually stopping every legal case with ‘out of court financial settlements and gagging clauses’. The only successful case to date was that of Turner vs. East West Airlines on 3rd September 2010 in which the exposure, which occurred in 1992 in a BAe 146 jet, was finally won in an Australian High Court. After 18 years of arguing by lawyers. This case would be by far the most compelling piece of evidence to any public inquiry as the claimant did not complete the trial for the compensation, but solely for the principle of demonstrating causation where oil fume exposure had caused her long term, chronic ill health, as a key legal precedent.
The reality of Aerotoxic Syndrome is, that despite being identified 20 years ago, only very few survivors have worked out the cause of their serious ill health.
Governments and industries have to claim that human health is an absolute priority but, they will argue that black is white, and lie and cheat as Volkswagen did in 2015 over their emissions testing, the tobacco industry before them and the pesticide/chemical industry still do.
Chemicals were designed to wreck nervous systems. It is a lottery as to whether victims suffer nervous system injury, brain damage and multiple organ failures or not.
Time and useless tests carried out by physicians is wasted as they try to understand their patients’ many and varied symptoms after exposure to neurotoxic chemical fumes.
Despite Norfolk man Sir Solly Zuckerman labelling OP’s as ‘deadly poisonous’ in the 1950’s, present day scientists claim them to be not dangerous at all, or not dangerous in ‘low’ quantities, or not dangerous because they are below ‘legal admissible limits’. A fume event is not ‘low quantities’. Repeated exposures create large compounded exposures; also there is a difference between such toxic vapours being present in a confined and sealed space, where there is no possibility to escape, to that of an office at ground level.
The term ‘Aerotoxic’ is not well liked by governments and industry who are not even allowed to use it in polite conversation as it reminds them of an issue which has been frequently compared to asbestos or ‘asbestos of the skies’, where any passenger, member of staff and innocent member of the public can be struck by chronic ill-health on any flight. Evidence was first formally recorded and understood in 1953.
In the USA an effort is being made to take the issue to law enforcement officials and politicians to enforce laws already in place and make new laws that recognise and address Aerotoxic Syndrome. Since formation of the Aerotoxic Association Ltd at the UK Houses of Parliament on 18th June 2007 to alert the public to this cause of ill health, has proven to be a thankless task. Yet, it is gratifying to have survived so long against such powerful opposition, who know they are in the wrong and can only win by completely ignoring the sworn testimonies and evidence of each and every professional aircrew and passenger in the world. These chemicals were designed to wreck nervous systems. It is a lottery as to whether victims suffer multiple organ failure – including the heart, brain, liver, respiratory and digestive systems, and have been severely injured and struck with ill health at their hands, by them turning a blind eye, taking refuge behind denial. This is not sustainable in a free democracy.
It was on 22nd May 2006 that I eventually understood the cause of my 16 years of extreme ill health and it came about after I had walked off the aircraft rather than endanger my passengers’ lives in mid-2005. This left me grounded and unfit to fly, as that is what exposure and inhalation of toxic air does. The manufacturers of the jet-oils used to warn on their labels that nervous system damage could occur. This warning has been conveniently – removed
In early 2006, wondering what to do for the rest of my life, I received a phone call from Capt. Tristan Loraine of the British Airline Pilots Association asking me if I would like to be part of a University College London testing programme of 26 other BALPA pilots concerning toxic cabin air.
I agreed to be tested as it seemed well organised and I was keen to understand why I had been seriously ill for most of the 16 years whilst flying the BAe 146? After several months of blood and fat tests and UCL cognitive testing in March/April 2006 I began to understand what was going on – I had been poisoned, and I was not alone. All, which is 100% of the group, had the same results, which were published by UCL in 2008.
Cognitive function following exposure to contaminated air on commercial aircraft: Paper
On Monday 22nd May 2006 I wrote a formal statement as professional pilot. This was lodged with a lawyer in 2007 and will be sent as ‘positive evidence’ to the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
It was in June 2006 that I was informed that I had Aerotoxic Syndrome, which had first been identified back in 1999. Why weren’t doctors giving me this diagnosis? All of the data was coming from other grounded aircrew, whilst all state employed doctors almost laughed at the cause. Yet private doctors, such as Dr Sarah Myhill of Wales who had treated many of the poisoned by organophosphate sheep-dip farmers, had worked out the cause of their poisoning decades ago.
I began searching the internet for anything to do with aerotoxic and I found a vast amount of evidence from countless other international aircrew and passengers who had also been poisoned. I learned about Robin Montmayeur, a female US passenger who had been ‘gassed’ on Flight 201 on 13th December 2000 on an Airbus 320 jet, her testimony was written on 4th June 2003. She was trying to inform others including politicians and authorities of the simple design flaw of most bleed air jets, which is universally understood by many but obviously kept quiet by the industry. If one passenger has been made seriously ill following a single flight there would be countless other passengers who would be equally ill, but who would never work out the reason.
It was repeatedly stated by adult aircrew that if they had nearly lost their lives from exposure to toxic fumes – how severe would the effect be on a child or baby? Why do babies cry and scream on flights – how will the nerve agents affect their tiny brains long after the exposure?
For the past 65 years, industry has been able to successfully argue that to their knowledge there is ‘no positive evidence’ of long term, chronic ill health following repeated exposures to known neurotoxic chemical substances in confined spaces of commercial jets.
Yet today, the 22nd May 2018, the Aerotoxic Association Ltd is calling for ALL evidence to be presented, both positive and negative, in order that the Judges at The International Criminal Court can finally decide whether a cause of public ill health exists and whether the known solutions should or should not be urgently introduced.
In late 2012, just before BA pilot Richard Westgate died, after suffering serious ill health which had first been misdiagnosed and mistreated for many years, he was determined to visit the International Criminal Court at The Hague together with the author of this appeal, in order to lodge all known Aerotoxic evidence of the time. Since the publication of the World Health Organisation report in 2017 ‘Aerotoxic Syndrome – a new occupational disease?’ and many other academic papers of compelling peer-reviewed published evidence, it is long overdue to honour Richard Westgate’s memory and to help other members of the public.
Please send your Aerotoxic evidence to: firstname.lastname@example.org and mark it with full contact details for the attention of “The International Criminal Court at The Hague, The Netherlands”, by August 31st 2018.
Chairman Aerotoxic Association
Former BAe 146 Training Captain
22nd May 2018