Frequently Asked Questions
These questions will offer further insight into Aerotoxic Syndrome and the precautions you can take.
The following questions incorporate FAQs from the Global Cabin Air Quality Executive (GCAQE) 2014 brochure.
The air on the aircraft is provided unfiltered from the compression section of the engines in a process known as bleed air. This bleed air gets contaminated with heated engine oil fumes that contain hazardous chemicals. As a result, the crew and passengers breathe in and, in some cases, may even absorb these hazardous chemicals through the skin. This is known as dermal exposure.
Exposures are to a complex mixture of chemicals which can have a synergistic effect. No inhalation toxicity testing has ever been published. Also, most chemicals do not have a recognised safe exposure level.
Exposure to contaminated air will most likely impact individuals in different ways. It can cause both short and long term health problems, based on a number of variable factors: levels and types of chemicals present during an event; previous exposure history to contaminated air; genetic make-up; age; medical conditions; and potentially any medication you may be taking.
Regulations state that crews are not allowed to fly if they are fatigued; have consumed alcohol; or have taken certain medications in a pre-determined time period before they fly. This is to ensure crews are alert and able to deal with any complex emergencies they may face. Inhaling contaminated air will and has impacted the cognitive ability of many crews. This is a flight safety issue.
Yes. We have many case studies from passengers affected by just one fume event whilst in flight.
Millions of people have been exposed since bleed air was first used in 1963.
Aerotoxic Syndrome can mimic the symptoms of many diseases, including Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis (MS), as well as chemical sensitivity, chronic bad flu, severe allergies, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), cardiac and lung problems. Click here for a full list of symptoms.
There are no standards for the mixture of chemicals you are exposed to. Furthermore, exposure standards do not apply at altitude, they only apply to single chemicals. They do not apply to complex chemical mixtures and do not apply to the travelling public—especially not to the unborn, children and the elderly.
Aircraft are not equipped with detection systems to warn when the air is contaminated. Many chemicals are odourless and under reporting is widespread throughout the industry. Consequently, it cannot be stated that these events are rare. It can only be stated that the exact frequency of events remains unknown. Click here to see our Fume Events page.
Oils used in engines leak into the air supply by design. Their chemical signature has been repeatedly found in aircraft cabins and cockpits. Extensive evidence confirms that exposures are occurring and health and flight safety is being compromised. There is a hair test available which can detect the signature compounds of jet oils.
Because Aerotoxic Syndrome is not officially registered and classified as such by the World Health Organisation, or the regulators.
Keeping silent and pointing at industry led research to prove there is only a small problem.
The oxygen masks are only for cabin decompression. Pilots are not allowed to drop the oxygen masks for smoke or fumes in the cabin.
Many people have successfully used foldable half face respirator masks with activated carbon to avoid the worst of the fumes.
No. All jet aircraft which use bleed air are affected, including turbo propellers. However, some aircraft models appear to be worse than others.
Yes: a a process called bleed air filtration, but it would cost money. However, most passengers say they are content to pay extra for clean air.
By passengers complaining to the airlines and demanding clean air. Toxic Air Detectors (TADs) need to be fitted to all passenger jets.
By writing to the airline and aviation regulators and by encouraging other passengers to do the same.
Yes. Boeing has a new jet design, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which cannot have a fume event. This is because it does not rely on air that has been bled off of the engines to supply the cabin with breathing air.