Corona Virus In-Flight

So you are concerned about flying with the corona virus purportedly in the air? If John Rappoport is right in his hypothesis that polluted air could be a cause of epidemic illness, you certainly have reasons to be concerned. Referring to a Yale study he states that the mixture of toxic elements with unknown synergistic effects in our sea-level air is unprecedented in human history, never mind the one on board aircraft. And it is well known that bad air quality brings on all kinds of lung infections including pneumonia, the illness attributed to the coronavirus, if there indeed is such a virus. It is less well known that aircraft are ideal breeding grounds for all sort of respiratory illness due to the lack of in-flight air. Vigorous recycling of at least 53 % at lengthy intervals assures it. It saves on fuel consumption thus increasing shareholders profit. Who cares that it increases the potential of spreading all sorts of illnesses through aircraft ventilation systems including the coronavirus bug, if it indeed exist.

The cambodiacapital.com thinks so, stipulating in February 2020 that polluted air could indeed be an important cause of the “Wuhan pneumonia” a.k.a. corona virus. Or it could be carried on particulate pollutants thriving on Earth as in heaven due to commercial aircraft air quantity and quality as provided by the airlines.

It is a well-known fact that because of the effects of high altitude on humans aircraft must be pressurized and supplied with artificial oxygen, air ventilation- and filtration systems. These systems usually are set to operate at between 6000–8000 feet above sea level. Until the early 80s, they supplied a 100% fresh air circulation to all cabins at about three minute intervals by pumping outside air through engine compressors into the aircraft and back outside through exhaust valves.

To save fuel engineers then designed an air-intake system where up to 53% of cabin air passes through filters to blend with fresh outside air before it’s re-injected into the cabins. On most aircraft the filters used to purify the air purportedly remove 90 to 95% of dust, bacteria, and viruses—but not gases and odors. They are also said to remove up to 99.99% of airborne contaminants 0.5 microns or larger. But many of those contaminants are said to be smaller than 0.5 microns. But how often these filters are changed to guarantee their proficiency is a mystery.

The amount of oxygen provided to passengers and cabin crew depends entirely on an airline’s generosity. One carrier instructed its Airbus pilots to select HIGH only if flight attendants reported to the flight deck in person complaining about difficulties breathing. In a nutshell, the 100% fresh cabin air circulated about every three minutes through aircraft manufactured before the 1980s was replaced by providing half-fresh and half-recycled air every six or seven minutes in newer aircraft. Air ventilation in itself corresponds to class compartments. The less air circulation the greater the reduction of oxygen to passengers and cabin crew, though they now have breathing stations in the galley areas. Cabin airflow going from front to back, first class passengers thus receive first class air its quality diminishing as it finds its way to the back. Pilots also lower air flow after meal service completion to increase it again roughly one hour before landing to assure economy class passenger and cabin crew are able to walk rather than crawl of board.

The Joint European Aviation Authority mandates that European carriers must provide each crewmember with no less than 10 cubic feet per minute (cfm) to enable them to perform their duties without “undue discomfort or fatigue.” The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on the other hand finds 7.5 cfm more than sufficient. That cockpits have completely separate ventilation systems administering 100% fresh air at much higher volume to the pilots than that delivered to the peons in the back is rarely known. Thus there is blatant discrimination o/b aircraft in regards to the air to breath. The United States Academy of Sciences National Research Council measured that on full Boeing 747s during domestic runs pilots inhaled the luxurious amount of at least 150 cfm of 100% fresh air from their private system, whilst First- and Business class passengers received between 30 to 50 cfm of recycled air and those working or lounging in the high-density economy sections got less than 7 cfm for their breathing enjoyment. And when calculating fresh air-intake combined with recycling, air circulation and human carbon dioxide addition in-flight it translated into less than 5 cfm per person for those traveling in the back. Viruses thrive under those conditions. Low oxygen tension enhances Hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication so why not that of the corona virus, if it indeed exists?

So, now you know. It’s not your constitution unduly acting up when you exit the aircraft with a pounding headache and are pooped and ailing for days and weeks afterwards in particular after a longer flight. Those ailments are invisible gifts graciously extended by your courteous North American airline. And you ought to count yourself blessed if exhaustion and fatigue is all you suffer. Cabin- and cockpit crews suffer much worse, but of that another day.

In Flight Organophosphates

Reporting on https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/07/airplanes-unsafe-cabin-fumes-123362

Concerns have been raised by organisations representing pilots and cabin crew about the possible effects on aircrew health of oil/hydraulic fluid smoke/fume contamination incidents in pressurised aircraft. Specific concerns have been raised with respect to organophosphate compounds (OPs) in the cabin air environment and the perceived effects on health of long-term low- level exposure states Professor Michael Bagshaw, MB BCh MRCS FFOM DAvMed DFFP FRAeS, in his 2013 “Health Effects of Contaminants in Aircraft Cabin Air” summary report vs. 2.5. (asma.org). Always remember: What affects cabin crew affects you, the passenger!

The UK CAA Mandatory Occurrence Reporting (MOR) System in 2007 noted 116 fume event reports out of 1.3 million passenger and cargo flights, with fume events estimated to occur on 0.05% of flights overall (1 in 2000). Of the 20,000 UK professional pilot population, the UK CAA Medical Department in 2008 was aware of 21 pilots reporting medical symptoms associated with exposure to cabin air fumes, of whom 10 are long term unfit. There has been no reported increase in the number of such pilots known to the UK CAA Medical Department.

The Australian Parliament conducted a Senate Investigation in 1999 into air safety and cabin air quality. This followed concerns raised by crew members working for Ansett Airlines who reported feeling unwell due to unpleasant odours of engine oil inside BAe 146 aircraft. The Senate report concluded that the BAe 146 had a record of unpleasant odours in the cabin as well as occasional incidents of fumes from lubricating oil. Over a longer period, airline employees had reported a variety of adverse health effects.

In the USA similar problems were reported with early RB211-535C powered Boeing 757 aircraft in which overfilling with engine oil could lead to contamination of the environmental conditioning system (ECS). In the UK, incidents of smells in the cabin were reported on early B757s operated by British Airways. UK operators of the BAe 146 also experienced oil fume incidents.

Although the evidence suggests that oil fume events of initial concern stem from a design fault on two early series aircraft, which has now been rectified, occasional oil smells still occur (~1 in 2000 flights). Campaigners maintain that these are leading to health problems for aircraft occupants. They are also concerned that crew health is being affected by long term exposure to very small amounts of contaminants, which may be present in bleed air as a result of leaking engine oil seals in the absence of specific fume events.

In 2007 the Aerotoxic Association was founded by BAe 146 Training Captain John Hoyte at the British Houses of Parliament to raise public awareness about the ill health allegedly caused after exposure to airliner cabin air that he claimed had been contaminated to toxic levels by engine oil leaking into the bleed air system, which pressurizes all jet aircraft with the exception of the Boeing 787 (aerotoxic.org). Since then, the Association has provided guidance and advice to thousands of airline pilots, cabin crew and passengers suffering from Aerotoxic Syndrome.

The term describes acquired chronic ill health caused by exposure to toxic oil fumes present in the breathing air of most commercial jets. Unaware, thousands of people suffer every day without knowing about this health and safety hazard first identified by 3 scientists from France, Australia and the USA in 1999. It is known to affect the central nervous system and brain causing a range of acute symptoms and long-term ill health. And remember, now: What affects cabin crew affects passengers!

Press Release

June 2015

Press release

The Harvard School of Public Health has been commissioned by the Flight Attendants Medical Research Institute to study weather “Qigong” can improve the health of Flight Attendants who worked in a smoking environment more than 25 years ago…

Since Qigong is widely accepted to be a beneficial practice, what is the point of spending money on this study done by such a reputable institution?

Why not investigate the far more urgent lack of air and neurotoxic contaminants in the air aboard airplanes endangering the health and lives of all those who fly?

In response to Harvard’s ludicrous study, Nattanya H. Andersen, author of Broken Wings: A Flight Attendant’s Journey, has made available free of charge her meticulously researched chapters of the onboard Air Quality and Quantity, Aircraft as Illness Incubators and Psychiatric Illness in Pilots onto her website (here, on BrokenWings.ca).

Her efforts to improve the working and traveling conditions onboard aircraft by contacting the big players in the Aviation Industry and the Political Arena are also illustrated on her website.