Toxic cabin air appeal: has your health been affected?

This blog has, several times, addressed the subject of the contamination of bleed air supplied to aircraft cabins by toxic organophosphates. Now Susan Michaelis, already the author of the Contaminated Air Reference Manual, is appealing for those who have suffered – or believe they have done – from illness related to cabin air contamination, to get in touch with her. I’ll leave the request in her hands:


“I am currently in the process of completing a PhD on the health and safety implications of  contaminated cabin air at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. As part of this I am undertaking 3 health surveys. While I have obtained considerable data I am keen to hear directly from pilots from around the globe falling into the following 3 categories: 1) BAe 146/ 146 RJ pilots both past and present; 2) medically retired or pilots who are/have suffered long-term ill health (permanently or for a period of time) after flying the B757; 3) pilots (colleagues or family may respond) who have experienced brain tumors, particularly those having flow short haul or aircraft up to B767 during their careers.


To date my research of past and present UK BAe 146 pilots has shown the following preliminary results: Out of approximately 300 pilots contacted, 87% were aware of the contaminated air; 59% had experienced some adverse symptoms that are commonly seen with such exposures; 27% reported medium to long-term ‘Aerotoxic’ type symptoms and approximately 10% appear to have been either ill health retired, suffered long-term ill health or were deceased appearing to be related to what many call ‘Aerotoxic Syndrome’. A similar pattern is being seen internationally  and is supported by published literature from around the globe.


The data will all be de-identified and should contribute significant data to the knowledge we have on the cabin air issue. Anyone willing to participate in the basic survey should contact me as soon as possible at:”

5 Responses to Toxic cabin air appeal: has your health been affected?

  1. Tony 16 October, 2009 at 10:29 pm #

    Thanks to David for continuing to cover this issue and to report on the airlines’ disgraceful behaviour on still trying to cover this up. I fall into category 1 and 2 and have lost my licence, but thankfully not in number 3 (yet). I’ve already completed the surveys. Keep up the good work, Susan.

  2. David R Phillips 19 October, 2009 at 2:03 pm #

    Age 57 years
    Married (still to wife No 1)
    Son aged 30 Captain on KLM Fokker 100 + 1 granddaughter aged 8 months
    Daughter aged 28 French Teacher + 1 granddaughter aged 16 months.
    Training at College of air training Hamble 1.1.1971
    Flew PA28 and Baron Beech 55 (hours 215.50)
    Joined British Airways 1.4.1973
    First flight Trident 3B 21.11.1973
    Last flight Trident 3B 27.8.1985 (hours 5411.41)
    First flight Boeing 757 26.2.1986
    First flight Boeing 767 11.3.1990
    Diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease 1.6.1994
    Licence suspended for 1 month.
    Last flight Boeing 75/67 28.1.1995(hours 10465.00)
    Command Course
    First flight Lockheed L1011 27.3.1995
    Last flight Lockheed L1011 16.11.1996
    Rejoined 75/67 fleet 11.1.1997
    Last flight Boeing 75/67 25.5.1998
    Retired due to ill health 29.3.1999

    On the Boeing 757 I experienced frequent short exposures to oil fumes. This was known on the fleet as “Sweaty Sock Syndrome” apparently due to overfilling of engine oils during nightstop at LHR. This was hardly ever written up in the Tech Log as all the aircraft did it.
    My P.D. symptoms have continued to worsen and I am now on Invalidity Benefit.
    Last month I underwent Deep Brain Stimulation (D.B.S.) surgery at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery to implant two electrodes into my brain. Attached to this is a transmitter which sends pulses of electricity to the brain. I am much improved.
    I firmly believe that my P.D.was triggered by long term exposure to oil fumes from the bleed air system of the Boeing 757 aircraft.

  3. A Smith 21 October, 2009 at 8:39 pm #

    I have had one odd experience onboard an AC A330 about six years ago. I was sat over the wing area and having just eaten dinner I woke up some time later Hhow long Id been ‘asleep’ Ill never know) feeling extremely nauseous so I literally staggered to the bathroom as if I were heavily drunk. Cold sweats and, more embarassingly, I had peed myself. Have never felt like this since but just to let you know it was really nasty!

  4. 27 October, 2009 at 5:28 am #

    Thanks, great blog. i have free simulator software (and loads of tips) at my site for budding and working pilots check it out!! :)

  5. Harry Balls 31 May, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

    I understand that but where does it take us?

    A smart man covers his ass, a wise man leaves his pants on. :)