You may have seen several stories about diverted aircraft from all airline carriers in the US and abroad in the news recently because of “toxic fumes.” These fumes cause serious health concerns and are not monitored onboard aircraft.
Passengers are often unaware that the air they breathe on board is circulated through a “bleed air system.” This system heats outside air over the engines – allowing toxic fumes to potentially seep into the cabin air.
The aviation industry often denies the threat of these chemicals, claiming that aircraft have been designed this way for years. The science, however, is clear on this issue.
Engine oil, hydraulic fuel, and other aircraft fluids, when gasified, become potent nerve agents that can cause brain damage, cancer, and loss of motor function.
These nerve agents can be absorbed through inhalation and through the skin. Repeated or prolonged exposure to these – such as the daily exposure flight attendants endure – may result in the same effects as acute exposure. Some TWU members have become completely disabled from exposure to these chemicals.
These fumes can smell like dirty socks or other everyday items – often causing people to ignore this life-threatening issue.
Frequent flyers and other passengers may mistake the symptoms of toxic fume exposure for jetlag. In fact, travelers are at equal risk for the negative health effects of these fumes.
Federal legislation has been re-introduced in the U.S. Congress to address this issue. The Cabin Air Safety Act, sponsored by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representatives John Garamendi (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), would help set our cabin air on a path to being healthy and safe. The TWU fully endorses this important bill as a first step to ensuring our cabin air is healthy and safe.
Will you send a letter to your elected officials asking them to endorse The Cabin Air Safety Act?