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Commercial Aircraft Air Quality Danger - Aerotoxic Syndrome

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Published on Apr 20, 2010

CNN's Allan Chernoff reports on how eight people were sickened due to an oil leak on a US Airways jet engine. A similar incident also occurred several times on a Northwest (now Delta) Airlines aircraft.

Aerotoxic Association: http://www.aerotoxic.org/index.php

The association is run by a group of aircrew whose careers have ended prematurely due to Aerotoxic Syndrome, and we now want to help similarly affected aircrew and passengers.

Aerotoxic Syndrome is the name given to the illness caused by the long-term effects of breathing contaminated cabin air in an aircraft. The term was introduced on 20th October 1999 by Dr Harry Hoffman, Professor Chris Winder and Jean Christophe Balouet, Ph. D.

Why does the cabin air get contaminated?
In order to have a comfortable environment and sufficient air pressure in the cabin to breathe at the altitudes at which airliners typically fly, a supply of warm compressed air is required. This is supplied direct from the engines and is known as "bleed air". It is mixed inside the aircraft with recirculated cabin air at a ratio of about 50/50. Although some of the air is recirculated, all of it originates in the engines. Bleed air comes from the compressor section of the engine which has many moving parts which have to be lubricated. There are various engine seals in place which are designed to keep the lubricating oil and air separate. Due to the design of these seals "wet seals", they cannot be 100% effective, and will let a certain amount of oil into the air. They are also subject to wear, and like any mechanical component, they may fail. If a large amount of oil mixes with the very hot compressed air, the result will be fumes or smoke entering the cabin. This is known as a fume event. There are no filters in the cabin air supply to stop this happening.

How often does a fume event occur?
A UK government website states that fume events occur on 1 flight in 2000, while another report (see para 69) says the figure is 1 in 100. However, on some aircraft types crews report that they experience fumes to some degree on every flight. The fact that there is still no fume detection equipment on aircraft, and that the definition of "fume event" is not always agreed upon makes it very difficult to give a true figure.

More of article at: http://www.aerotoxic.org/index.php/ab...

video (fair use) : http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/livi...

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