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Study reveals permanent brain damage among pilots and cabin crew


André Orban

16 April 2019

For the first time, a Belgian scientist has started in-depth research into the effects of not only toxic fumes but also chronic exposure to a low dose of toxins in aircraft. Research psychologist Daniel Dumalin is studying whether the toxic substances that are released during incidents with air supply (fume events) have an influence on crew members. And the first results are worrying.

For years now, there have been discussions in the aviation industry about the

health risks that are associated with these fume events.

During such an incident, toxic air from the engines ends up in the cabin and

the cockpit via the aircraft’s air conditioning system.

Sometimes this is accompanied by intense smoke,

but in most of the cases, there is only a pungent smell in the cabin (smelly socks).

There are numerous stories of pilots who – during such a fume event – become unwell behind the controls and of cabin crew who faint. Some also have persistent complaints afterwards: bursting headaches, extreme tiredness and concentration problems. In some cases, people will start to shake or feel numbness in certain body parts. In the aviation industry, this is referred to as Aerotoxic Syndrome. The syndrome will not only occur after a fume event but also with chronic exposure to low doses of toxic substance in the air. Not a single airline, however, recognises the syndrome as an occupational disease. As a result, pilots or flight attendants will not be financially compensated if they have to stop flying because of their health problems .............

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Image by Abby AR
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