Plane passengers, cabin crew being exposed to toxic fumes

March 27th, 2008 - 5:13 pm ICT by admin  

London, March 27 (ANI): Thousands of plane passengers and cabin crew staff are at the risk of developing breathing problems, nausea and fatigue that may be caused by toxic fumes pumped into aircraft, according to a report.

The report compiled by the Global Cabin Air Quality Executive, which represents more than 500,000 aviation workers, even states that long-term exposure to such fumes may lead to brain damage.

Many-a-times pilots have complain that bleed air, a term used for the air pumped directly from jet engines to the cabins on every plane without being filtered, renders them completely incapacitated.

Captain Tristan Loraine, a former pilot and co-chairman of GCAQE, accused international airlines of presiding over a global scandal.

They dont tell the public there is a risk of exposure or when they have been exposed. This has to be a breach of their human rights, the Daily Express quoted him as saying.

Each year thousands of contaminated air events go unreported. The Civil Aviation Authority and the Department of Transport have negligently failed to protect the travelling public, he added.

As against the Governments claim that only one in 200 flights are affected, the GCAQE insists that chemicals from oils and lubricants leak into cabin air supplies daily.

People can be affected from a one-off flight or as a result of repeated flights. In the short-term you may suffer things like breathing difficulties, headaches, fatigue and respiratory problems. In the long-term it can cause problems in the central nervous and neurological systems, Susan Michaelis, head of research at GCAQE, said.

Blood tests on some exposed pilots show cell death in the brain, which is effectively brain damage. We have found these chemicals in crews blood and on the walls of the flight deck as well as in the air in cabins, she added.

Although filter systems are available, say critics, airlines have been reluctant to meet the costs of fitting them.
There is no airline using a filter for this but the technology does exist. No one wants to pay for it but it is not expensive, Susan says.

The newspaper report says that MPs from all political parties are calling for an urgent public inquiry into the effects of bleed air.

Shadow Transport Minister Julian Brazier said: Its pretty scary to think a pilot could be brain damaged or permanently incapacitated by these fumes while accountable for the lives of so many on his aircraft. If even one plane goes down because of this, its a tragedy that could have been avoidable.

Green Party MEP Caroline Lucas said: Given the huge profits raked in by the aviation sector each year, you might think that airline bosses could spare some money to invest in research and preventative measures.

Spokespersons for the Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority were unavailable for comment. (ANI)

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