Ever heard of Aerotoxic Syndrome? Most doctors haven’t and the reason is that it’s not officially recognized by the World Health Authority. It's been a real problem for close to 40 years and it should be getting more attention. Finally, this syndrome is being reported on TV news and in documentary films.
Who is at risk?
Everyone who flies is at risk: pilots, ariline attendants and passengers. Aerotoxic Syndrome is caused by breathing in cabin air on a plane. And how does a plane supply air for passengers to breathe? Warm compressed air, known as bleed air, is supplied through the plane's jet engines. This comes from the jet engine compressors, and while there is a seal to separate this air from the toxins, there are often leaks and sometimes, the system dysfunctions.
When there is a dysfunction, the result is a fume event. During a fume event, the whole cabin becomes enveloped in toxic smoke that looks like a bluish haze. Included in this toxic soup is high temperature aviation engine oil, hydraulic fluid, cleaning compounds and de-icing fluids.
Although these visible fume events are reported, there is also a toxic leakage into the cabin air that can smelled and not seen.
Ever been on a plane and smelled a sweet oily odor, a vomit-like smell or a wet sock smell? This is how many have described the contaminated air.
And on board, there are no sensors to register this this chemical overload. The only detectors we have are our noses.
When the poison enters the cabin and we breathe it in, it starts to attack our central nervous system and our brain. People who are frequent flyers (those who fly more than once a week) and are exposed to these toxins repeatedly are most susceptible to Aerotoxic Syndrome.
Women who are pregnant must be aware that anything they breathe in can affect the developing baby.
Aerotoxic Syndrome Symptoms
Think you may have Aerotoxic Syndrome? Look out for these symptoms during or after a flight:
- blurred vision
- shaking, dizziness
- tightness in chest
- heart palpitations
- eye or nose irritations