Research into link between Cabin Air and Health issues

Researchers at the University of

Stirling in the UK have conducted

research in which a study into the

health of aircrew who are suspected

of exposure to contaminated air

during their careers was undertaken.

The results of the study were

published in the World Health

Organisation journal Public Health


Scientists examined the health of

more than 200 aircrew who had a

‘clear pattern’ of acute and chronic


Aircrew who took part in the

research reported headaches

and dizziness as well as breathing

and vision problems.

Dr Susan Michaelis from the

university's occupational and

environmental health research

group explains that the research

provides very significant findings

relevant to all aircraft workers and

passengers globally.

She explains that the study indicates

a ‘clear link’ between being exposed

to the air on flights and a variety of

health issues.

"There is a clear cause-and-effect

relationship linking health effects

to a design feature that allows the

aircraft air supply to become

contaminated by engine oils and

other fluids in normal flight,” she says

"This is a clear occupational and

public health issue with direct

flight-safety consequences."

The researchers conducted two

independent surveys to review

the circumstances and symptoms

of crew working on aircraft. The

symptoms were then confirmed

using medical diagnoses.

One test looked at pilots' health

and showed 88% were aware of

exposure to aircraft-contaminated

air. Almost 65% reported specific

health effects, while 13% had died

or experienced chronic ill health.

Prof Vyvyan Howard, from the

University of Ulster in Northern

Ireland, said the effects of the

contaminated air could also

apply to frequent fliers, though

this would be to a lesser extent.

"We know from a large body of

toxicological scientific evidence that

such an exposure pattern can cause

harm and, in my opinion, explains

why aircrew are more susceptible

than average to associated illness,"

he said.

He goes on to explain that exposure

to this complex mixture should

also be avoided where possible by

passengers, susceptible individuals

and unborn children.”

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