Airline cover-up: Toxic oil from jet engines poisoning passengers and crew for decades

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airline-passengers(NaturalHealth365) Aerotoxic syndrome, the term for the illness caused by exposure to contaminated air in jet aircraft, is ruining careers and claiming lives, causing the illness, permanent disability and even death of airline employees and passengers.

Yet the issue is minimized, swept under the rug and largely ignored by corporate giants Boeing and Airbus, with those who speak out facing character assassination, ridicule and even termination.

Aerotoxic syndrome is being called the “asbestos of the airline industry”

Discovered and named by French scientist Dr. Jean-Cristophe Balouet on October 20, 1999, aerotoxic syndrome is believed to affect 250,000 pilots, cabin crew and passengers worldwide.

The problem actually dates back to 1963, when aircraft moved from a fresh air source – air drawn from separate fuselage intake valves – to the use of “bleed air,” direct from the engines, which is mixed with recirculated cabin air at a 50/50 ratio. The synthetic oil used by jets contains organophosphates – used in pesticides and nerve gas, and banned by the EPA for residential use in 2001 because of known toxicity.  The byproducts of these carcinogenic organophosphates can include aldehydes and carbon monoxide.

The use of bleed air allows these heated lubricants to come into the passenger cabin in the form of toxic vapors – referred to as a “fume event.”  The video (below) clearly reveals the darkest secret within the airline industry – truly shocking!

Negligent airplane maintenance can trigger serious consequences for passengers and crew

The use of “wet seals” is intended to keep oil and air apart, but these seals can wear out and become less effective over time. In 1978, during deregulation, wet seals maintenance replacements were extended from 5,000 flight hours to 30,000 flight hours – a policy that endangers the health of passengers and crew.

If the wet seals fail suddenly, oil vapors get into the bleed air, causing fumes – sometimes accompanied by a foul-smelling bluish smoke – to enter the cabin.  Many have likened the odor of a fume event to “dirty socks” and an “oily, chemical smell.”

There are currently no chemical sensors onboard aircraft to detect fume events, only the senses and perceptions of the crew and passengers. However, swab-testing can confirm fume events after the fact by detecting residues on interior surfaces of the cabin.

Warning: The effects of fume events can be debilitating

Fume events – which clean cabin air advocates say occur daily around the world – can cause chronic or acute symptoms, including violent vomiting, severe migraines, inflamed nerve endings in the brain, blurred vision, respiratory distress, and heart spasms.

So, if you become suddenly violently ill on a plane – or if you have symptoms after deplaning, such as headaches, flu-like symptoms or disorientation – it may not be old-fashioned, run-of-the-mill “airsickness” or “jet lag,” as the airline industry would have you believe. It could be aerotoxic syndrome.’

The video (below) shows you how highly-toxic oil fumes can poison airline passengers (and crew) during a flight:

Effects of fume events can be cumulative and deadly

Frequent fume events, a particular hazard for aircraft crew and frequent flyers, cause chronic low-level exposure to residual toxins, including carcinogenic organophosphates and other volatile organic compounds.  Those afflicted by chronic aerotoxic syndrome can die of sudden cardiac arrest because toxins have moved into heart tissues, causing lymphocytic myocarditis – a deadly inflammation of the heart muscle caused by neurotoxins.

Equally dangerous, especially in regards to aircraft crew, are the disorientation, feelings of intoxication and deficits in cognitive brain function that can accompany chronic aerotoxic syndrome. The existence of these symptoms raises the terrifying possibility of pilots who could become impaired and incapacitated during a flight.

Estimates on frequency of fume events vary wildly

Currently, all airlines and practically all aircraft are susceptible to fume events. But frequency estimates vary, depending on who is doing the tabulating.

According to the 2007 claim by the UK Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment, fume events occur in 1 in 100 flights.  Clean cabin air activists, noting that toxic residue was found in 50 percent of all aircraft sampled, place the estimate at up to 50 percent of all flights – meaning hundreds of fume events occur worldwide on a daily basis.

They assert that regulating authorities are financed and controlled by the aviation industry, and will follow the industry’s lead when it comes to downplaying aerotoxic syndrome.

Health and safety aviation activists are pushing for solutions

Aerotoxic Association was founded by airline crew whose careers had been cut short by aerotoxic syndrome and who now want to support similarly affected crew and passengers, inform the public of the dangers, and work with the industry to implement solutions.

The association gathers, records and publishes accounts and photographs of fume events on aircraft around the world, and also sells an activated carbon face mask that the group says can provide some protection from fumes.  According to AA, fume events can be avoided by installing bleed air filtration on all aircraft; the group says passengers should write the airlines to demand this, as well as signing the group’s petition demanding Toxic Air Detectors.

Click here to visit the Aerotoxic Association or use this link:

Snapshot of a fume event

Also on the Aerotoxic Association website is a copy of a lawsuit recently filed against Boeing by a Washington state flight attendant regarding a particularly noxious fume event in which the flight attendants, cabin crew and passengers smelled an odd odor, then developed severe headache, tingling fingers and disorientation.  Some attendants reported vomiting and burning eyes, and a passenger passed out.

The entire crew was evaluated by paramedics in Austin, Texas, and one flight attendant had to be treated at an area hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning. She is now permanently impaired and can no longer work as a flight attendant; in the court papers her attorneys say the case will highlight Boeing’s “dirty little secret” of bleed air contamination.

Cabin Air Quality Act is the best hope for the future

In 2010, Senator Diane Feinstein (D., CA.) introduced an amendment to study aerotoxic syndrome. Passenger rights groups, as well as flight attendant groups, are now pushing for the passage of a Cabin Air Quality bill in the U.S., with the placement of mandatory chemical sensors on all current bleed air aircraft and a return to the safer, pre-1979 policy of a 5,000 flight mile engine wet seal replacement window.

The bill would also require that all future aircraft utilize the safer “non-bleed air” design, as with the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which uses air directly from the atmosphere.  A state-of-the-art jet in which the designers took pains to revert back to the safer, pre-1963 design – prove that the industry is aware of the health threat posed by contaminated bleed air.

Porter Lafayette, health and safety aviation activist and author of “Fume Event – Aviation’s Biggest Lie,” urges you to contact local senator or congressman to demand clean air on all aircraft.

In the words of US Attorney Alisa Brodkowitz: “…The only thing filtering this toxic soup out of the cabin are the lungs of the passengers and crew…”  The threat of contaminated bleed air – with its debilitating and deadly legacy – has been persisting for decades.  But, it should not be allowed to endanger crew and passengers a moment longer.


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  • Marvin Taylor

    I hate to board a plane, now I have additional reasons. I have many friends who for travel on airlines for their business. I can’t count how many times they come home sick.

  • Victoria Tillman

    I always though I caught a cold when I got off a plane and felt sick. Now, I will rethink that assumption.

  • EMFs

    As for me, WiFi in flight makes me awfully ill. Think about it, who likes to travel inside a microwave oven?

  • jay

    I bet the small private jets used by the elites will have a solution rapidly.

  • Joe Guttman

    I think I will stick to riding the good old Greyhound bus, at least then you know for sure that “fume events” are the real thing, like dirty socks, dirty underwear and good old B.O.!

    • Mitchell Stevens

      The few times I’ve taken a bus in my life, I could still taste exhaust fumes and that nasty toilet sanitizer that filled the cabin for days.

  • EJ MacDonald

    I worked for two airlines as a flight attendant. After every round of flights I would be so ill and I just couldn’t comprehend that it was due to jet lag. It was far too severe to be jet lag. I couldn’t even function on a layover. I have always had a compromised immune system, so I am guessing now, after reading this article, that I was poisoned and just reacted worse than the rest of the crew. Glad I found a new career!

  • BChristine

    Very appalling …this indeed sounds like a cover-up by the industry; even though the evidence is obvious. I haven’t flown since 1999 – pre 9/11, and this gives me one more reason to shun flying.

  • ryan

    However my close friend has over 1.5 Million miles and he’s as healthy as an OX. This could all be true or not, who knows. Lots of sensationalism all over the place.

  • Jan

    Just the thought of designing a system where the air flows from the outside through the jet engine into the cabin air is beyond belief. My dad was an architect and having worked for him, I watched how hard he worked to design buildings and banks with the number one goal being “safety.” Consequently, he was successful at what he did. This Boeing story is another example of big business completely unwilling to own up to their responsibility. To correct such an enormous problem would cost them so much money it is incomprehensible, not to mention the compensation that would be required for all those whose health has suffered. Sadly, it happens in almost every industry. Rather than concern for the well-being of airline employees and flyers, corners are cut and all condemning evidence–destroyed. If it weren’t so grievous, it would be laughable watching the response of the Boeing rep claiming he was offended. However, to give him the benefit of the doubt, it is possible (though highly unlikely) that he didn’t know. Could it be that they chose him for the interview because he was indeed unaware of the problem? We’ll probably never know. What a better pawn than to pick a person who has no clue and let him be the target spokesman while the true perpetrators remain in their ivory towers and lay on the beach sipping their Mai Tai’s as this man takes the heat. It could explain why he did appear quite genuinely offended by her question. Boeing remains guilty either way and should be held accountable.

  • Ant

    The air that the plaine gets depends. On whether the plane taxing right in front of it is also sucking the fumes of the plane in front of it !
    Taxing out of Chicago OHeir airport I was number 15 to take off the smell of burnt jet A Fuel for an hour made u sick

  • Ann Equality Fonfa

    I wear a mask when I fly since I am already Chemically sensitive. I don’t like vinyl, leather, plastic and people’s fragrances (mainly because they are all petroleum-based or chemicals and not ‘flowers’).

    • ecbound

      What kind of mask and does it really filter all these things out?

      And, if the pilot breathes it in and becomes incapacitated, it won’t matter.

    • Nurys Melo-Garcia

      Hi Ann! What kind of mask do you wear? I’m very sensitive to all kinds of fragrances except for good oils like lavender. I’m traveling to Arizona to have a test done, about five hours flight and than thirteen hours to Israel. I would to love to know about your mask.
      Thank you,

      • Chris

        Nurys, I’m sorry, I replied to the wrong post.
        Please seem my post in reply to Ann Equality Fonfa which I intended to be in reply to your post.

    • Chris

      A P100 mask such as the Sperian RWS-54020 is very nice for filtering out oil mist and particulate matter. It is effectively a HEPA filter, filtering at least 99.97% of airborne particles. A plain P100 filter is NOT effective against vapor/fume/gasses. Reducing those sorts of things can be done with an OV (organic vapor) filter. A respirator such as the 3M 6297PA1-A provides P100 particulate filtration and also organic vapor filtration. The 3M 6311PA1-A is also usable but only has P95 filters. The large blocks on the sides are the OV filters, and the white pads you see on the outside of the blocks are P95 filters. I was not able to find P100 prefilters to replace the P95 prefilters that it ships with.

      The respirator with the brick style OV filters seems to have more OV filter media than the respirator with the pink disc style filters, so it might be more appropriate if OV reduction is the primary goal. If particulate matter reduction is the primary goal, then the pink disc style filter might be better.

      A P95 filter is similar to a P100, but is only 95% efficient vs 99.97% efficient. If you see N, as in N95; it means “Not” effective against oil mist. The P in P95 or P100 means oil (mist) “Proof” (possibly at the rated efficiency of 95% or 99.97%). I am not entirely clear on the details of the oil proofness of a P filter.

      If you use the plain face mask, be sure to form the green strip into the shape of your nose so that when you put the mask on, it makes a seal against your skin where your cheek meets your nose. Don’t get a white face mask that is not foam lined all the way around where the mask touches your face. From what I can tell, the foam is necessary for the mask to seal against your face. The 3M respirators are available in different sizes to match the user’s face.

      These are some examples of what might be used, depending on what you are looking to accomplish. There are many different options from various manufacturers. I chose these because they are available at Home Depot, a store which seems to be fairly widespread around the country. Menard’s, Lowe’s, Amazon, Grainger, and many others carry these sorts of things.

  • Champak Anand

    The airlines Also Often Spray insecticides in the
    cabin prior to the passengers Boarding

  • Daisy

    I always get sick after traveling It takes me at least two weeks to recover.

  • Sandy

    It seems to me that there is a LOT of room for compromise between 5,000 and 30,000 flight miles. It also seems to me that the FAA should be instituting this via regulation; this is clearly within their portfolio as already delegated by Congress.

    A suggested middle ground, in view of the apparent fact that all of the problem exists in existing, ageing aircraft, and in future aircraft will decrease or disappear:

    Require installation of bleed air filtration and cabin air toxin sensors in ALL airplanes which use bleed air. Require use of these filters and sensors at all times in all flights in
    which have more than 5,000 flight miles on their existing wet seals. Allow the airlines to maintain the 30,000 flight mile requirement to replace the wet seals but ONLY in those airplanes already equipped with filters and sensors. Offer the airlines an alternative so they can keep their older fleet stock flying: Replace all wet seals at 5,000 flight miles, or sooner if inspections so indicate.

    Regulations such as the above would not only make flying safer for crew and passengers, but would allow the airline carriers and aircraft manufacturers to solve the problem economically and avoid disruption of their schedules.

  • John

    Yes, air quality has a definite effect on our health, but the RADIATION bombardment is far worse. A typical 1,500 mile trip on a jet will provide you with the same amount of radiation you will get walking around on the earth in one year!
    It is well known in the airline industry there is a price to pay for being a pilot or flight attendant over a period of time. Typically those people age about 10 years faster than those of us who do not subject ourselves to living in the atmosphere high above the earth.
    Those electric seats that fold into beds in business class on long international flights provide huge amounts of microwave energy absorbed by the body on a flight. So you pay lots of money to be subjected to very health damaging rays. How’s that comfort justified by the airline industry? They are responding to requests for convenience, not health.

  • john jacobs

    Don’t forget:
    ‘Fresh’ outside air contains Aerosol Spraying Hvy Metals and bio-agents.
    Also adding to the list: The three melt-downs (melt throughs) 3-11 Nukashima – all into YOUR atmosphere and Pacific Oceans 😐
    Wat’cha gona do? (x_x)

    • Truth4All

      Praise the Almighty for HIS KINGDOM TO COME!

  • John Landau

    This video needs to be posted to Facebook because the word needs to get out. This is not surprising at all. Cabin air is highly toxic. There are toxic flame retardants in seat cushions. Some airlines spray insecticides on passengers before landing. Imagine that! Last time I flew in 2010, I had severe anxiety related to breathing in jet fuel while boarding the plane. The airline industry will never acknowledge poisoning people. Admittance means lawsuits and the responsibility to remediate the hazards of toxic exposures to passengers and crew. People need to keep filing lawsuits before anything will get done, unfortunately.