Parliamentary question - P-3005/2009Parliamentary question

Aerotoxic syndrome

by Caroline Lucas (Verts/ALE)
to the Commission

Studies carried out in recent decades have shown that many people who have flown in commercial jet aeroplanes have become unwell, with a range of short- and long-term symptoms such as chronic fatigue, sleep disorders, blackouts, seizures, neuromuscular pain, weakness, breathing disorders (which could, if severe, be fatal without a life-support system), as well as gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and skin problems and loss of concentration. The symptoms are thought to be due primarily to neurotoxic organophosphates which contaminate the air circulating in the cabins of jets as a result of design flaws in the air intake system. Since 1999 this condition has been called ‘aerotoxic syndrome’, and such contamination of commercial aircraft is (it is claimed) a potential risk to the health and safety of thousands of passengers and staff travelling daily by commercial airlines.

Despite growing awareness of aerotoxic syndrome and the alleged risks to human health associated with this aircraft design flaw, little has been done to investigate this issue thoroughly and to deal with the matter seriously. There is still very little support for the crucial scientific research necessary to find evidence on aerotoxic syndrome in order to ascertain whether or not there is toxic exposure for people on flights and, if so, how best to deal with the issue responsibly. As a result, the health and safety of thousands of people travelling by air remains potentially threatened. On the ground, very few healthcare practitioners are actually aware of this syndrome (it is not a recognised illness) and national guidelines for diagnostic procedures do not exist.

The European Aviation Safety Authority indicated in 2006 that it would review and modify the Certification Specification applicable to large aeroplanes (CS‑25) by 2009. Could the Commission please advise on what progress has been made on this task and what further actions the Commission will be taking to address the health risks associated with contaminated air in aircraft, given the gathering evidence of a problem[1]?

OJ C 189, 13/07/2010