Having spent over 9 years at university in Europe and the United States and close to 8 years in industrial research and development before changing tracks and becoming an airline pilot I´d like to add some views to this discussion.
Based on my own scientific experience with analytical techniques like chromatography, atomic absorption spectroscopy etc. , verification of compounds on a molecular level, i.e. single molecules, is state of the art. The fact that some compounds are shown to be present at molecular level doesn´t mean you will get sick. Now where is the pathogenic level ? While some people suffer from symptoms some don´t, at the same exposure level. Our own genetic fingerprint makes us unique in our looks as well as our ability to get sick or not.
While the TCP issue is of concern, I am always amazed about the fact that hard and cosmic radiation effects are quite often overlooked or even ignored just because you can´t smell it nor see it. We all drink a hot cup of coffee out of plastic cups on a daily basis, finish that PET-bottle of water every day to fight the dry air up there, yet we silently accept to “digest” small little molecules of PET processing additives without really knowing its long term effects on our health. We use our cellular phones and sit at the desk and write comments like this on PPRuNe while the WLAN antenna is radiating. Feel the headache ?
Our cardio-vascular systems are subjected to heavy loads of submicron or more trendy “nano” carbon particles from our engines on the ground and from our cars while driving to and from duty.
I think, I call in sick tomorrow…
Dream Buster, I have in the past participated in the reviews of a number of the fune and incapacitation incidents that have been referred to; and my personal conclusion is that there is indeed a significant issue that needs to be addressed and which some people unfortuantely appear more prone to. However, behind the allegations of industry cover-ups, I have yet to be convinced that there is adequate understanding of exactly what are the causes and hence the appropriate solutions. And I don't believe that this is through a lack of industry testing and analysis. Hence my quite genuine desire to know what it is you believe we should be filtering against?
I am not disagreeing with you that there are people with severe medical issues and that something should be done based on sound investigations. But I am frustrated to keep hearing the same knee-jerk campaigns that seem to suggest that the industry already knows what the problem is and how it should be fixed. The only 100% safe solution I know of, where there would never be a risk of oil contamination, would be to ground all current generation aircraft that use engine bleed air...
When you start an APU on a 146 it is very easy to mistakenly fill the entire aircraft with visible or stinky invisible oil fumes.
I have many testimonies from pilots who will confirm this. This phenomenon is actually referred to in BBC Panorama - 'Something in the air?' here At the bottom of the home page.
So if one flew for 16 years it would be say 10 minutes exposure to these fumes X 3 days per week = 30 minutes per week X 40 weeks per year = 1200 minutes = 20 hours per year X 16 years = 320 hours exposure to breathing visible oil fumes. Divide it by 10 for reality = 32 hours.
Over 24 hours breathing visible oil fumes in a confined space spread repetetively over 16 years.
You can put various numbers into the above equation but you are left with people (pilots and Cabin Crew) breathing visible smoke in a confined space - repetetively.
So the question is, what is in the fumes? We have been asking the DfT for the chemicals and concentration for over 2 years now and guess what? Nobody knows - well they do, but it is bad news so they don't want people to know.
This information would provide the filter manufacturers with a very good idea of how to make their filters and what to filter out.
None of this is 'knee jerk' - they are cold hard facts waiting to be published one day and the industry is in total denial of the danger of these fumes and what's worse, they know it.
How do they get away with it? Well the fumes cook ones brain to the point that one can't rationally deal with it. The perfect crime?
Any bleed air aircraft can create visible oil fumes - another fact.
PS. I also had a full blown fume event in 2002 when the whole a/c (not the cockpit) filled with thick white smoke for around 5 minutes after t/o - I felt really ill (I was already seriously ill at the time from 1989) for months and years afterwards until I finally quit flying in 2005.
I knew nothing of this subject at the time and would not know anything about it until mid 2006 - please learn from my experience, if you value your health?
De icing fluid also can get into the system via the APU inlet, thats pretty nasty too apart from the organo' oil mist hazard. This is a REAL problem folks but as usual the bean counters will win the day....
Location: The 'Bat Cave' @ HLP in the Big Durian Indo
Well you can actually see it and touch it ...
Just because you can't see it nor touch it it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
As part of my business I do a couple of 'Z Checks' of Boeings or turbo props each year where we totally strip all components and then cut up the air frame for scrap.
Most of these aircraft will be 25 to 30 yrs old at the time.
The avionics bay insulation and underfloor ducts, wiring and cabling will usually have a sticky to the touch thin film of 'something' but it smells like engine oil , it's so uniform it looks like it's been sprayed on , these are in extremely unaccessible areas of the airframe which would rarely be viewed let alone cleaned during a major service.
To the curious Boeing 727 + 737 classic pilots and engineers have a look behind the the forward rack in the avionics bay with a maglite (near the relay bank) and to where the walls of the avionics bay meets the bottom of the floor and you should be able to see what I am talking about.
If you ever knew a really heavy smoker who liked to smoke with the windows closed in the car it's like the sticky tar that gets left on the inside of a car's windows.
By comparison cable runs and other components in the top of the fuselage (behind the ceiling panels) still look like new 30 yrs after installation , clean !
So there is some evidence as the aircraft get's older (due to components not working as well as they did or less than optimum maintenance) contaminents are entering the pressure compartment and over a period of decades you can see it in some parts of the aircraft.
At Flight International/flightglobal.com we don't just believe toxic cabin air is a serious issue, we know it is and have demonstrated it, publishing the evidence.
The result has been total silence from the industry. No denials, because they know they can't deny it. No complaints, because they want the issue to remain obscure.
They know the burden of proof remains, at present, with the many pilots and cabin crew who have been damaged by TCP and other neurotoxins in aircraft cabins, and with the unknown number of passengers who simply don't have any way of knowing where their distressing symptoms have suddenly emerged from.
We have been appalled by the pilot unions' complicity in this cover-up. They think jobs are more important than lives and licences.
In the face of this apparently unscaleable wall of complacency we have set up a space on our forum AirSpace here:
We are not trying to gather more evidence - we have that in spades and have watched in disbelief as the entire system, including members of parliament, either ignore it or have the wooll pulled over their eyes.
We are trying to get those have suffered or are suffering from aerotoxic syndrome, to tell us their story publicly.
They can identify themselves if they want to, but - especially if they are pilots who fear the loss of their jobs by reporting, or those who have received compensation subject to a gagging order - we promise we will keep their identities confidential if they want us to.
We want those who have suffered to paint a picture of the scale of human misery that this avoidable situation has created, and will continue to create.
Until such a time as there is a mandate from national aviation authorities for fitting contaminant detectors/alerts and bleed air filters to take out the neurotoxins in all aircraft (HEPA filters don't do it and they're wrongly placed in the system), this problem remains a risk in all pressurised aeroplanes flying today.
If you want the background to our campaign, visit my blog.but the most important thing is for those who have a story to tell to go to the previous link and tell the world just how bad it is if you get a dose of this contamination.
Last edited by Bad medicine; 2nd Mar 2009 at 21:38.
Reason: Removed link to blog on another site
'We have been appalled by the pilot unions' complicity in this cover-up. They think jobs are more important than lives and licences.'
Your comment seems rather a sweeping statement. The Independent Pilots Association/Federation have been applying pressure on this subject whenever possible. Indeed all U.K. members received a DVD at the end of last year entitled 'Welcome Aboard Toxic Airlines'. They also provide support to the Global Cabin Air Quality Executive, as can be seen if you go to Global Cabin Air Quality Executive | GCAQE
That's quite bad, a lot of people will be at stake as a result of these 'toxic' fumes. I would expect that the government would act appropriately. Make I also ask, which organisation would be in charge in this sort of incident?
I also find it quite interesting that not all aircrafts are the same in terms of the Pressurisation. - Learnt something new! (I'm a wannabe)
I would not deny that there is or at times may be contamination in public transport cabins. A thread was started last year which seemed to have a bit of an axe to grind, together with some very unlikely contamination suggestions. Because one type has a bad reputation amongst crewmembers does not mean that all aircraft are affected.
I'm probably guilty of doing the old 'when I were lad' re air contamination in industry, plating shops, diesel engine rooms and industrial towns and comparing those conditions with modern elfin safety rules.