Flying Commercial can harm your health

>> Sunday, June 20, 2010


Aerotoxic Syndrome, the unofficial name now being used to identify the laundry list of both acute and chronic symptoms caused by breathing contaminated jet cabin air, include things like chronic fatigue, respiratory difficulties, vision problems and cognitive disorder.
Airplanes fly at elevations that are thousands of feet above sea level where the air is cold and thin. If this air were to be pumped in directly from the outside, it would not be breathable for passengers. In order to make it suitable for breathing, it must be pressurized, heated, and then circulated to the passengers.

Originally, planes were designed with mechanical compressors that produced clean, suitable cabin air. But since the 1950s, most commercial planes have been redesigned to make cabin air by drawing in a compressed supply of it from plane engines (a less expensive way to produce it). Typically, this "bleed air" is mixed with existing cabin air and recirculated throughout the flight.

The only problem is that the area of the engine from which this air is drawn is often contaminated with toxic fumes from the friction that occurs between various moving parts and the oil that lubricates them.

The type of oil used to lubricate plane engines is a complex, synthetic variety that has been specially formulated to endure extreme conditions. So naturally it is filled with all kinds of toxic components, including Tricresyl phosphate (TCP), a known neurotoxin that is used in pesticides and nerve agents.

Heavy metal particles such as nickel, cadmium and beryllium also make their way into the mix as the "bleed air" is drawn through engine channels. And because all of these different toxins are exposed to extremely hot engine air, there's no telling what kinds of new contaminants are formed by the time air enters the cabin.

According to the Aerotoxic Association, these toxins cause damage to the central nervous system that vary from person to person. Some people may experience immediate symptoms while others may notice a pattern of illness that becomes progressively worse over time.


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