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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Aerotoxic Syndrome: A New Occupational Disease?
Author(s): Michaelis, Susan
Burdon, Jonathan
Howard, C Vyvyan
Keywords: aerotoxic syndrome
cabin air contamination
cabin air quality
jet engine oils
oil fumes
Issue Date: Jun-2017
Citation: Michaelis S, Burdon J & Howard CV (2017) Aerotoxic Syndrome: A New Occupational Disease?, Public Health Panorama, 3 (2), pp. 198-211.
Abstract: Background: Concerns related to adverse health effects experienced by aircrew exposed to aircraft contaminated air have been ongoing for over 6 decades. Unfiltered breathing air is supplied to the cabin via the engine compressor. The likelihood that oil leaking over the engine oil seals may enter the cabin air supply has prompted continuing debate about the hazards associated with exposure to neurotoxic substances and to the thermally degraded or pyrolysed mixture. In this study, we undertook an in-depth investigation of aircrew involved in suspected aircraft contaminated air events.  Methods: Two studies were conducted to review the circumstances and symptoms of a cohort of aircrew working in the pressurized air environment of aircraft. A table of effects was then used for categorizing symptoms and reviewing other sources of data related to aircraft fluids and selected other conditions.  Results: Both acute and chronic exposures to neurotoxic and a wide range of thermally degraded substances were confirmed, along with a clear pattern of acute and chronic adverse effects. The latter were supported by medical findings and diagnoses, notably involving the neurological, neurobehavioural and respiratory systems.  Conclusion: A clear cause and effect relationship has been identified linking the symptoms, diagnoses and findings to the occupational environment. Recognition of this new occupational disorder and a clear medical investigation protocol are urgently needed.
Rights: © 2017 Michaelis, Burdon, and Howard; licensee the World Health Organization. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution IGO License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. In any reproduction of this article there should not be any suggestion that WHO or this article endorse any specific organization, products or services. The use of the WHO logo is not permitted. This notice should be preserved along with the article's original URL.

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