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Toxic Cabin Air/Aerotoxic Syndrome

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Toxic Cabin Air/Aerotoxic Syndrome

Old 8th Apr 2017, 14:46
  #241 (permalink)  
 
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Aerotoxic

Basically all the industry denials are commercial & legal liability issues. BALPA massed an impressive collection of scientists and experts and were going into bat over it until someone (BA?) drew their attention to the impact of them proving the case; since then it has been deny & rule.

There have been too many well documented instances of tests, victims and investigations for it to be challenged realistically but the system makes it hard to budge any of the players. However, Boeing mysteriously decided that the 787 should have engine free air con and pressure and cited efficiency as the reason. Really? When "efficiency" was the reason engine bleed air was used in the first place.

If it walks like a duck & quacks like a duck etc
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Old 9th Apr 2017, 10:05
  #242 (permalink)  
 
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2017 Aircraft Cabin Air Quality Conference

I see there is a major conference coming to London on 19-20 September 2017. The conference will be opened by Astronaut James Lovell.

The last conference on this issue, if I recall correctly was over 10 years ago and set up by BALPA.
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Old 10th Apr 2017, 07:05
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There have been too many well documented instances of tests, victims and investigations for it to be challenged realistically
Let's be honest: There haven't. Lots of people posit that cabin air is affecting health but, thus far, there's been nowhere near enough robust evidence to prove this. Quite a lot of scientists have written papers about this, so far none of them have come to a robust conclusion.
With more research and more data that will change, but basing things on individual cases, anecdotes and the borders of conspiracy theories is not the way to move forward. That just detracts from the argument.

-edit-
2017 Aircraft Cabin Air Quality Conference
This is the type of thing we need more of. Bringing experts (and Jim Lovell ) together to discuss it properly.
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Old 10th Apr 2017, 08:35
  #244 (permalink)  

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"However, Boeing mysteriously decided that the 787 should have engine free air con and pressure and cited efficiency as the reason. Really? When "efficiency" was the reason engine bleed air was used in the first place..... If it walks like a duck & quacks like a duck etc"

Unfortunately, the evidence simply doesn't seem to be there - and I have looked fairly thoroughly. A proper epidemiologist would doubtless do a better job, but the evidence seems to be all very anecdotal, rather than science based.

As for Boeing's decision not to use bleed-air, it really comes down to a policy decision. Since "Toxic cabin air" has become an accepted meme of "fake news" that no scientific findings can reverse, one simply has to accept it.

Boeing, quite sensibly, have concluded that because of this, they will no longer use bleed-air for pressurisation and accept the associated inefficiency. This will lead to somewhat higher fuel burns and all that that implies, but this can be offset by higher ticket prices and possibly reduced services to some destinations.

As so often in the "alternative fact" world we live in, the majority will be inconvenienced by the absolute refusal of a small number of people to take as truth various things that they want to believe, since the negative cannot be proven.
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Old 10th Apr 2017, 08:48
  #245 (permalink)  
 
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Hmmm.

Absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence.

As the previous poster rightly pointed out, a lot more research needs to be done before any definitive conclusion can be drawn.

Originally Posted by Mac the Knife
As for Boeing's decision not to use bleed-air, it really comes down to a policy decision.
Boeing might choose to disagree, having cited all of the following as reasons for the 787's no-bleed architecture:

Improved fuel consumption, due to a more efficient secondary power extraction, transfer, and usage.

Reduced maintenance costs, due to elimination of the maintenance-intensive bleed system.

Improved reliability due to the use of modern power electronics and fewer components in the engine installation.

Expanded range and reduced fuel consumption due to lower overall weight.
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Old 10th Apr 2017, 09:38
  #246 (permalink)  

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Thanks for the reply DaveReidUK.

And for your correction as to the reasons Boeing has given.

But I'd take a good-sized bet that the 787 will still suffer from complaints of Toxic Cabin Air.

If it isn't bleed-air, then it will be something else, less-obvious and more mysterious.
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Old 10th Apr 2017, 09:58
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But I'd take a good-sized bet that the 787 will still suffer from complaints of Toxic Cabin Air.
The latest research does show that the 787 is not immune to fumes in the cabin. Far too early (based on only 8 flights) to draw any meaningful conclusions from that, however.
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Old 10th Apr 2017, 18:36
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You can go round making studies of what the concentration of these chemicals are in the cabin till the cows come, the reality is that knowing the concentrations required to damage health of each chemical on it's own is one thing, but in combination is another. From my reading (but I maybe mistaken) the answers to those questions are not well known.

What's really required is a long term study of crew health with controls etc. Funding is an issue, and the science of detecting the effects and indeed the presence in the body is somewhat in it's infancy. However some are making progress - this paper makes interesting reading:

AUTOANTIBODIES TO NERVOUS SYSTEM-SPECIFIC PROTEINS ARE ELEVATED IN
SERA OF FLIGHT CREW MEMBERS: BIOMARKERS FOR NERVOUS SYSTEM INJURY
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Old 10th Apr 2017, 18:40
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If concern over Toxic Cabin Air was really the driving reason to go bleedless on the 787, the logical thing would have been for Boeing to adopt similar architecture on their other aircraft as soon as it's convenient. Yet since the launch of the 787, EVERY other Boeing airliner model has undergone or is undergoing a major upgrade (737 MAX, 747-8, 767-2C, 777X - all except the 767-2C involving completely new engines) yet all have maintained engine bleed.
And despite not using engine bleed air, I know of at least one oil fume event on a 787 (due to a bearing problem in the air cycle machine).
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Old 11th Apr 2017, 06:34
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Originally Posted by Afterglow
From my reading (but I maybe mistaken) the answers to those questions are not well known.
This is more or less correct. It's more accurate to say that the existing (few) large studies have shown either no link or an inconclusive link between fumes and the various proposed symptoms of 'aerotoxic'.

What's really required is a long term study of crew health with controls etc. Funding is an issue, and the science of detecting the effects and indeed the presence in the body is somewhat in it's infancy.
The science is well-understood, the problem is the limited number of samples and the time required for a proper study.

However some are making progress - this paper makes interesting reading:...
Interesting. However, the articles that cite it all seem to come to precisely the opposite conclusion.
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Old 11th Apr 2017, 12:07
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At some time I read a boeing publicity article that the 787 air conditioning was reverting to prior bleed era because of contamination. Imho this was changed because someone realised that the majority of Boeing's production uses bleed air and the costs of 're engineering would be prohibitive.
After a lot of investigation at Kings, Harley Street and Stoke Podges under the top liver specialist,Rodger Williams, I was put in the military hospital at RAF Halton. After a fortnight I was discharged- my wife told me afterwards that I had been given a week to live which is why I was put into Halton.
I was flying the Trident at the time, maintenance as well as management was lousy and fume incidents were common place. Except for lung problems (grew up east of london during the smog years) I had good health until I suddenly experienced gastro and liver problems.
My flight manager- nicknamed the corporal by the bomber boys- tried to sack me saying that I obviously wasn't suited to flying due to my nervous disposition.
I slowly recovered helped by only flying a week a month.
Ten years later I had a recurrence of the symptoms but more extreme. I was flying the DC10 for SR. Amongst my small group of foreign first officers around a quarter had neurological problems. I also had a friend with WardAir on the DC10 who died after a crossing having had a stress ECG complete with a crash team a few weeks before. I had a similar investigation.
Whilst I am sure that my 70s health problems were caused by a neurotoxin associated with the air con the DC10 incidents could have been larium although that would not have explained the WardAir death.

I contacted all parties who dealt with me in the 70s wrt obtaining my Tox reports to no avail.

I lost my license 22 years ago and since I stopped flying jets some of my symptoms have improved.

As to the corporals' nervous pilot...I've gone on to teaching mountain flying, winching and acrobatics and at 67 I'm climbing mountains and "jumping off".paragliding.

I had contact with an aircraft engineer whose company supplied the turbine lubricants as well skydrol and he said he had no knowledge about organophosphate poisoning. This I can believe as the industry has a long history of manipulation but Until recently I would guess that a lot of this cover up was pure ignorance and incompetence until BALPA suddenly changed tack.
The global implications are immense as are the pesticides, GM engineering and spent uranium munitions and we ignore them.

Last edited by blind pew; 11th Apr 2017 at 12:24.
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Old 11th Apr 2017, 13:47
  #252 (permalink)  
 
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Is this one of those 'inconvenient truths'? Is this smoke without fire, or no smoke at all? Is the cost of acknowledging the problem so prohibitive that it stands no chance? Eternal denial? We still do not know the real long term truth of solar radiation. There is not enough scientific historical data. The problem might be if either are ignored so that scientific data is never collected over a long enough period. It is shelved because the solution is too expensive. It becomes a risk/cost consideration.
Remember the poo-pooing (rubbishing) when health issues from leaded car fuel was first mentioned. The petrol industry thought it was a daft notion; until it was medically confirmed. Same with DVT and cattle class pax. Same with salt quantity & other additives in fast foods and children' health. Same now happening with sugar in everything. One could argue that these latter issues were solved because the costs were reasonable.
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Old 12th Apr 2017, 22:47
  #253 (permalink)  

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"We still do not know the real long term truth of solar radiation. There is not enough scientific historical data. "

I'd be intrigued to hear your explanation of that statement, having a scientific background and a son who is a physicist.

There IS quite a lot that we don't understand about our sun (like why the solar corona is so hot), but there is also quite a lot that we DO understand. The biological effects of solar UV are reasonably well understood now and there is a fairly good historical record of solar activity from a variety of sources going back a fairly long way.

We know that the Sun is a middle-aged G-type main-sequence star that has not changed dramatically for around 4 billion years and is likely to remain fairly stable for another 5 billion, though there will be periods of increased or decreased solar activity (see Maunder minima, etc.).

Global warming is an undeniable fact and we are at least reasonably sure that some of this is anthropogenic and that we can make it worse.

No, we don't know "..the real long term truth of solar radiation.." because we don't know enough about small-scale solar dynamics.

Trying to equate this with a highly variable and selective "syndrome" with protean and mainly anecdotal manifestations for which the evidence base is several orders of magnitude smaller is, I submit, unreasonable to say the least.
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Old 13th Apr 2017, 07:12
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I think he means "the truth about long-term exposure to solar radiation", i.e: cosmic ray exposure in high altitude aircraft. This was done to death earlier in the discussion, guess this chap missed that bit.
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Old 13th Apr 2017, 21:58
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Originally Posted by aox
The inquest of Richard Westgate has opened in Salisbury.

(BBC South Today TV)
Result:

Toxic air fear pilot Richard Westgate died of overdose, coroner rules - BBC News

A British Airways co-pilot who feared contaminated cockpit air was poisoning him died from an unintentional overdose of sedatives, a coroner ruled.
Dr Fox earlier ruled that "exposure to organophosphate in the course of his employment as a commercial pilot" was "not a proper issue to be examined by this inquest".

Speaking after the verdict, Mr Westgate's mother, Judith, said: "Medical experts have said organophosphate cannot be ruled out in causing his condition, so the questions remain.

"We know there are more sick passengers and crew, and we hope today will encourage the millions who fly to ask questions to ensure something is done to make sure others don't suffer like our son."
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Old 13th Apr 2017, 23:10
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I flew aeroplanes, mil & civ, for forty years. No one I know has had problems with toxic cabin air (well apart from a chemical carboy in a freighter breaking). Ciggies, yes; killed one or two. One particular aircraft type seems to have a convincingly bad record.
My GUESS is that a very few people are genetically predisposed to hypersensitivity to any number of foods and environments. The World of the majority is not going to stop for the few - sorry.
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Old 18th Jun 2017, 11:30
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This thread was started 7 years ago when the High Court of Australia ruled in 2010 that inhaling heated Mobil Jet Oil II was harmful to the lungs. This was several years after the AAIB agreed flight safety was being compromised from contaminated air exposures and recommended to EASA and the FAA that contaminated air detection systems be fitted to all turbine/jet powered aircraft - something that has yet to occur.

This week I see there is a significant paper published in a World Health Organisation journal entitled: 'Aerotoxic Syndrome: A new occupational disease'

http://www.euro.who.int/__data/asset...yndrom_ENG.pdf

The authors are probably the most informed on this issue you could ask for.

One is former Australian pilot Dr Susan Michaelis who not only holds a PhD on the issue but also trained as an air accident investigator at Cranfield and her MSc published last year 'Implementation Of The Requirements For The Provision Of Clean Air In Crew And Passenger Compartments Using The Aircraft Bleed Air System' confirmed that engine seals leak oil as a function of design, not only during seal failures. This explains why the neurotoxic organophosphate tricresyl phosphate has been found on the majority of air samples and interior swab samples taken from the internal surfaces of jet aircraft. This means crews and passengers are exposed on every flight to some degree - this may explain the higher cancer rates and ill health seen in crews confirmed by Harvard and others.

The next author is Order of Australia winner, Dr Jonathan Burdon OA, past President of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand.

The final author is Professor Vyvyan Howard. A professor in Bioimaging and a medically-qualified toxico-pathologist and the current leader of the Nano Systems Research Group.

I think the paper finally shows this issue has to be taken seriously as does the issue.

So what can be done to keep aviation safe, profitable and resolve this issue?

I understand the solutions to this problem will finally be presented at the industry supported 2017 Aircraft Cabin Air Conference in London on 19/20 September. The event is supported by Pall Aerospace, the GCAQE, Air Canada pilots, Both Australian pilot unions, APFA - the largest flight attendant union in the world, Virgin Atlantic pilots and others.

The solution to this problem I am told from a Flight Ops director I respect and trust, is a modern version of the military spec activated carbon filtration system DHL introduced to their B757 aircraft nearly 10 years ago with huge success.

The new version of this Pall designed filter, according to my source, has already been flight tested on an Airbus A320 aircraft at Spirit in the last month and filters the air coming off the packs with minimal flow rate change - it also comes with warning sensors I am told which will please the AAIB and others.

This will finally resolve an issue first reported by crews in the 1950s and will in one move mitigate a health and flight safety issue that should be addressed.

Some crews report they have flown for years with no health effects - others have lost their careers but ultimately these filters will protect the weakest link - the unborn child, the passengers who pay our wages as crew.

Itís a no-brainer - fit the filters which work and make aviation safer - everyone wins.



For one I will be at the conference in London as this will be big news - well done to all those unions who have championed this issue for so many years, especially the Australians.
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Old 18th Jun 2017, 23:58
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At least two of the first generation jets did not use engine bleed air in the cabin. The B.707 and DC-8 utilized turbo-compressors to supply cabin air. Engine bleed air of course powered them but they took in ambient air, compressed it and fed it to the environmental air conditioning system. I do not remember ever having any contaminated cabin air reports from those aircraft.
I believe the B787 uses independent compressors (electrically driven?) to supply air for the cabin which in turn should eliminate any contamination. Seems like the way to go as turbo engine oils are a witches brew of truly nasty stuff. Bad enough on the techies hands when maintaining the engine; a lot worse inhaling it after it has been super-heated.
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Old 19th Jun 2017, 01:59
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MD-80 and DC-9 Alaska Airlines fume events

After reading the last two posts, came across this interesting USAToday article from 2002. Seems Alaska Airlines was involved with a significant number of fume events, with the two AC types. I can imagine what the verdict was. Some further research dates events as far back as 1974 for 8 airlines in the US. BALPA research on 93 757 crews also reported 1600 fume events. I think the pull quote is "Mysteries are cheaper than fixes".

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money...-cabin-air.htm
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Old 19th Jun 2017, 09:56
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Perhaps people should be careful what they wish for. EASA could easily (make up) regulate a life time safe exposure limit after which flight even as a passenger on bleed air pressurized turbojets was severely constrained. It happens in other industries.

Long term the only solution is electric pumped pressurization, it would make the engines run more efficiently too.
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