Belgian researchers have looked into the toxic vapor emanations found in aircraft cabins. The results are alarming. They indicate the possibility of permanent brain damage in pilots and cabin crew.
The harmful impact of air transport on our environment is known. For the first time, a Belgian researcher, neuropsychologist Daniel Dumalin, was interested in what was happening in the cabin. It is established that the toxic air of the engines enters the cabin and the cockpit, through the air conditioning. Although it often does not smell, it can sometimes be accompanied by characteristic fumes.
The sector does not recognize the phenomenon
Everywhere in the world, there are many testimonials today, where stories of pilots or crew members who have fainted, following a release of smoke, are evoked. . Some have shown persistent symptoms, like powerful headaches,
In 2017, the ACV union and the BECA pilot union launched a staff awareness campaign. In February 2018, an inquiry was opened following a request from Health Minister Maggie De Block.
Experts have referred to this phenomenon as the aerotoxic syndrome. This phenomenon would occur after a release of smoke, but also during a regular exposure to low doses of toxic substance in the air. Regular travelers are just as targeted as the cabin crew. However, no airline recognizes that this is an occupational disease. Affected employees do not seek compensation but are forced to resign, to preserve their health.
“I want to fight for all these people”
Neuropsychologist Daniel Dumalin wants to fight for the victims and compares the situation to that of asbestos and tobacco in the 1960s and 1970s. Again, the risks were minimized, recalls the expert. “Only when the scientific evidence became alarming did things begin to move.”
Previously, doctors were limited to blood tests or autopsies. The Ostend researcher goes further by observing the brains of those affected and the initial results are already worrying him. He found lesions in areas that control cognitive processes. “This causes, he says, problems of concentration, memory problems or hypersensitivity to stimuli, and the sequelae are permanent.”
The neuropsychologist thinks it is crucial for science to take aerotoxic syndrome seriously. For more information, or if you wish to participate in the study, send an email to the address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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