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HolidayTravelWatch Calls On MP’s & MEP’s To Urgently Enquire & Act On The Issue Of Aerotoxic Or Sick Aircraft Syndrome


HolidayTravelWatch has recently received a report from Mrs X, who advises that her family suffered illness following a flight to the United States.

She advised that they, and a number of other passengers, were overcome with breathing difficulties and Gastro-Intestinal difficulties during their outward flight. When they arrived at their destination, the family continued to suffer with respiratory problems and stomach upsets. On return to their US airport for the return journey, they discovered that up to 40 individuals had been affected by illness following their outward flight. Many reported the following symtoms, both during their holiday, and since their return to the UK:

• Respiratory problems;
• Chest Crackles;
• Wheezing;
• Stomach Cramps;
• Gastro-Intestinal difficulties;
• Pins & Needles;
• Nausea;
• Chest Pain;
• Headaches;
• Rashes;
• Blistering;
• Itching;
• Fatigue;
• Memory difficulties

Since their return to the UK, Mrs X and her family report that they still suffer with many of the aforementioned symptoms, and are continuing to receive medical assistance.

There is an automatic assumption that that the illnesses arise from something the passengers ate, but is this the correct conclusion?

For a number of years there has been a continuing debate on the quality of cabin air; is it good to recycle air, should the level of oxygen be reduced, what is the potential for pollutants to enter the air supply and what is the potential effect of any cabin toxin on the human body?

The issue is clearly illustrated within the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report 1/2004.

Within that report the AAIB investigated an incident with a BAe 146 aircraft on approach to Birmingham International Airport in November 2000. The AAIB also carried out a thorough investigation on the BAe 146 and noted similar alleged toxic incidents with Boeing 757, 737, Fokker 100, Airbus 320/321 and DCH-8 aircraft.

They noted that fuel oils generally contain an additive, Tri-Cresyl Phosphate (TCP), which is known to be a neurotoxin if ingested in large quantities. Interestingly, before any oil is approved for use in an aircraft, they observed that all oil products had to comply with the MIL-PRF– 23699 standard. This is a standard ‘owned’ and created by the US Navy.

The AAIB noted that the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology reported that in the absence of Tri-Ortho-Cresyl Phosphate (TOCP) confirmed poisoning cases,

“that the concerns about significant risk to the health of airline passengers and crew are not substantiated”.

The AAIB concluded that research should continue, in order to identify the nature and effect of ‘toxins’ in the aircraft cabins. In addition, the AAIB critically noted that the Joint Airworthiness Regulations (JAR) fails; they observed,

“The regulations put the onus on the system design for clean air, with little requirement placed on the constituents of the lubricating oils so as not to be harmful to, or affect, the occupants of aircraft”.

In 2002, a Professor Nazaroff testified before the US House of Representatives, concluding that

“During abnormal operating conditions, exposure to engine oils, hydraulic fluids, and their degradation products (such as CO and Formaldehyde) might occur. No data have definitely linked exposure to these compounds with reported effects in cabin occupants”.

He also called for CO monitors to be placed in cabins and for an enquiry into the ‘toxicity’ of the constituents of the oils or their ‘degradation products’.

On reading these reports, it appears that aircraft/airline/petrochemical industries, not the Authorities, are in the dominant position when investigations are required.

HolidayTravelWatch is now speaking with, and assisting a number of holidaymakers, affected by this Florida flight.

Frank Brehany, MD of HolidayTravelWatch states,

“It is remarkable that holidaymakers are once again innocent and unknowing victims. Whilst there is an air of deniability on the ‘so called science’ on this issue, there is no denying the fact that Mrs X and her fellow holidaymakers have suffered serious illness following this flight. The flight taken by Mrs X and her fellow holidaymakers has left its mark, and has provided them with an unwanted holiday gift”

He adds,

“If the information we are reading on this issue is correct, that is, that there is an issue with seal design in engines, there are question marks over method by which air is fed into the aircraft cabin, and the use of organophosphates in engine lubricating oils, then this is a scandal of monumental proportions; supported by political and corporate apathy. I have previously stated that this issue clearly cuts to the health of every man, woman and child. Why do our politicians appear to be impotent on this important public health issue? The time for wait and see is over; the time has now come to shed light on the issue of aircraft engine mechanics, bleed air supplies and the use of organophosphates in lubricating oils. The time to protect the public is at hand”

Frank Brehany concludes,

“If the politicians and corporate executives will not act, then perhaps consumer power will force them to reconsider? I call upon every consumer affected by issues of illness following a flight, to take the following action:

1. Notify the airline and the CAA immediately of any smells or fumes experienced on your flight – before you leave the airport;

2. Notify the airline and the CAA of any illness suffered either during or immediately following your flight – before you leave the airport;

3. Make a record of the events you are complaining of – retain that record;

4. Obtain the contact details of fellow passengers also affected by these issues – do not give this to the airline or the CAA;

5. Obtain immediate and ongoing medical attention from your own medical practitioner;

6. Do not provide access to medical notes and records without receiving independent advices;

7. Do not accept any compensation/vouchers without receiving independent advices;

8. Contact HolidayTravelWatch for free and confidential advice”.

All holidaymakers affected by any of these issues should call the National Helpline 01217478100 or make contact through the Organisation’s website –


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