6 Responses

  1. Scottrick
    Scottrick at |

    “These are all toxic and some are neurotoxic.”

    Everything is toxic. Toxicity is just the degree to which something damages an organism. Even water can be toxic if you drink too much. All the poisons put on crops to kill weeds and insects are presumed harmless to humans not because they don’t kill things (they do) but because the amounts that remain are so minor they shouldn’t be a threat to us.

  2. downhillcrasher
    downhillcrasher at |

    @scottrick – Indeed most everything is toxic (noble gases possibly excepted), the question is whether or not exposure to the levels found in a commercial airliner over the time period described are toxic. The study doesn’t say (I doubt enough data on these things in combination even exists to draw a conclusion), so I don’t think we should be dismissive of that possibility, especially given the multlifactoral nature of the problem.

  3. VG
    VG at |

    You lose either way. If the bleed air is has impurities that are not good for you, the recirculated cabin air is full of germs, bad odors, and is oxygen depleted.

  4. Arcanum
    Arcanum at |

    Conversely, there are actually lower levels of dihydrogen monoxide in the air at altitude, a dangerous compound found in nearly all cancers and diseased blood vessels on pathology.

  5. Arcanum
    Arcanum at |

    The answer to your headline is “NO”.

    This man may indeed have died of some strange chemical-related immune disorder or toxicity, but implying it was due to bleed air simply because he was a pilot is drawing a conclusion that isn’t warranted. Organophosphates are pretty common. He may have been spraying his yard with herbicides or insecticides incorrectly for years and been exposed that way.

    There are literally hundreds of thousands of pilots and millions of cabin crew worldwide flying every day. If bleed air were a significant danger, I’d expect this to show up in many people, not just a single individual. If there’s only a single case report out of the millions of crew with decades of exposure each, I’m pretty sure the exposure during my one hour commuter flight isn’t going to kill me. Poor maintenance and pilot fatigue are much greater risks, although the drive to the airport is still by far the most dangerous part of the whole trip.

  6. Biggles209
    Biggles209 at |

    From an ex-AS MD-80 Captain:

    The MD-80 used to have a nifty little pathway to ‘fume events’ – if the APU developed an oil leak, the fluid would drain out of the the tail compartment, then down the outside of the fuselage, right into the APU air intake. Voila! Instant cabin full of of toxic fumes! It would coat the interior of the aircraft, requiring the plane to be ‘cooked’ – mechanics would override the temperature sensors to allow the cabin heat to reach high levels for several hours to bake the coating away. I had to refuse one airplane that still reeked of fumes – the mechanics’ noses would become desensitized to the odor so they couldn’t tell it was still there.