…Team Studies Aerotoxic Syndrome


And there could be a new in-flight malady to challenge deep vein thrombosis as a reason not to fly. A former Australian airline pilot claims she was made chronically ill (and not fit for the cockpit) by aerotoxic syndrome. Former British Aerospace 146 first officer Susan Michaels told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that she would often notice a “dirty sock/vomit-type smell” (even when not transporting a rugby team) after turning on the pressurization system. Four years ago, a government inquiry found that toxic oil fumes from leaky engine seals were getting into the cabin air via the pressurization system. The inquiry dealt only with BAE 146 aircraft, a popular four-engine regional jet in Australia and Europe (there are some in North America) but now a new medical study is widening the probe to other types of jets. Michaels told the TV network that she’s heard from pilots of Boeing, Airbus and McDonnell-Douglas aircraft that they, too, are getting sick from the fumes. Michaels said she kept her symptoms to herself at first but soon discovered other crew members were experiencing hoarse throats, headaches and tingling. Medical officials aren’t sure what chemicals are to blame for the disease but Dr. Andrew Harper, an occupational physician, told the network the fumes contain chemicals known to damage the nervous system.