The Unite union is currently pursuing 200 cases of its members who claim to have suffered ill health after exposure to toxic cabin air.
Unite, which represents cabin crew at several major airlines such as Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, easyJet and Norwegian, is preparing a landmark case which is set to be heard in the High Court next year. The union says it is now pursuing 200 “toxic air” cases of its members, all of whom claim they have suffered from health problems due to their prolonged exposure to cabin air contaminated with fumes.
Howard Beckett, Unite’s general secretary of legal services, said:
“Airline staff are having their health damaged by being exposed to fume events and many have been forced out of the industry as a result.
“These injuries can result in life-changing neurological symptoms with immunity systems irreparably damaged. In extreme cases, these poisonous toxins have been found in staff post mortem.”
Howard Beckett’s remarks come after the BBC broadcast an investigation into the topic of toxic cabin air, focusing on the story of British Airways cabin crew member Matthew Bass. Mr Bass died suddenly in 2014, and his parents believe their son died as a result of being exposed to contaminated air in aeroplane cabins.
His parents – Charlie and Fiona Bass – paid £7,000 for a second autopsy and other post-mortem tests which found a build-up of organophosphates in Matthew’s body. Organophosphates are usually found in turbine engine oil, and it is the exposure to these substances that campaigners say can cause cabin crew long-term health problems.
British Airways have strongly denied that Matt’s death was in any way linked to exposure to contaminated cabin air.
However, Matt’s local MP Henry Smith – whose constituency of Crawley in West Sussex contains a number of airline staff who work out of Gatwick Airport – told the BBC that he was concerned about the number of “fume events”. Mr Smith said:
“I’ve had enough constituents come to me, one a suspected death as a result of aerotoxic syndrome and therefore I think it is incumbent on the airlines to ensure that they’re not putting this aside as a minor issue but are properly investigating the health and safety of their staff and passengers.”
For more information, see Unite’s Toxic Cabin Air Fact Sheet here: https://unitetheunion.org/media/1274/toxic-cabin-air-fact-sheet.pdf