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Warning over toxic fumes in plane cabins

 

 

Coroner urges action to prevent deaths after warning toxic fumes in cabin air pose a health risk to frequent fliers and aircrew

 

Toxic fumes in cabin air pose a health risk to frequent fliers and aircrew, a coroner has said in a landmark report.

Stanhope Payne, the senior coroner for Dorset, said people regularly exposed to fumes circulating in planes faced “consequential damage to their health”.

Mr Payne, who is inquiring into the death of Richard Westgate, a British Airways pilot, called on BA and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to take “urgent action to prevent future deaths”. Most airline passengers, who fly only occasionally, will not be affected by the problem, but some frequent travellers who are genetically susceptible to the toxins could fall ill.

Mr Payne’s call for urgent action is likely to be welcomed by campaigners who have raised similar concerns for a number of years.

His report, obtained by the Telegraph, is the first official UK recognition of so-called “aerotoxic syndrome”, a phenomenon long denied by airlines but which is blamed by some for the deaths of at least two pilots and numerous other incidents where pilots have passed out in flight. Co-pilots can normally take over, but campaigners claim the syndrome is a suspected cause of some mid-air disasters.

Frank Cannon, the lawyer for Mr Westgate’s case, said: “This report is dynamite. It is the first time a British coroner has come to the conclusion that damage is being done by cabin air, something the industry has been denying for years.”

Mr Cannon said he was acting for approximately 50 other aircrew allegedly affected by the syndrome, working for airlines including Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Thomas Cook and easyJet. He is also representing two passengers.

Commercial passenger planes have a system which compresses air from the engines and uses it to pressurise the cabin. But it can malfunction, with excess oil particles entering the air supply.

 

 

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