Aero Toxicity Syndrome Lawsuits. Toxic air is an invisible danger that could be lurking in any airplane cabin. Over the past several years, scores of passengers and crew have fallen ill following so-called “fume events” on commercial aircraft. In many instances, the ailments that have followed exposure to toxic airplane air have developed into chronic illnesses.
Feelings of lethargy, tremors, chronic headaches, numbness, rashes, ears ringing, vision problems and other neurological symptoms have all been reported by people exposed to toxic airplane air. While many complaints come from pilots and flight attendants who spend thousands of hours on planes, these ailments have also been known to affect passengers exposed to a single fume event. Many different types of aircraft – including McDonnell Douglas MD-80s, the Boeing 777 and the BAe146 c – have been the subject of toxic air and illness reports.
A number of lawsuits and settlements involving toxic airplane air illnesses have made the news in recent years. If you or someone you love has been sickened by toxic airplane air, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We urge you to contact one of our toxic airplane air lawyers right away to protect your legal rights.
Causes of Toxic Airplane Cabin Air
Toxic airplane air can come from a number of sources. One possible culprit is the system used to re-circulate air in airplanes. This process involves combining re-circulated existing cabin air with air bled off the engines. The air pulled into the engines is cooled and compressed before it is pumped into the cabin. If this system malfunctions, chemical contaminants can end up circulating through the airplane, creating a fume event.
These types of fume events are not unusual. The United Kingdom’s Committee on Toxicity said in 2007 that pilots reported such fume events in 1 percent of flights. The group also said that maintenance inspected and confirmed such incidents in 0.05 percent of flights. According to the National Research Council, these incidents could occur on four out of every 1,000 flights.
Even the pesticides used in airplanes could be dangerous. According to an article posted on the Pesticide Action Network’s Website, “between 2000 and 2001, one cabin crew union received complaints of pesticide-related illness on more than 200 flights. Many complaints cite damp surfaces and pesticide odors in crew rest compartments.
Symptoms typical of such pesticide exposure include sinus problems, swollen and itchy eyes, cough, difficulty breathing, hoarseness, skin rashes/hives that vary in intensity, severe headaches and fatigue, and heightened sensitivity to other chemicals. Some crew members have medical documentation of reactions consistent with nerve gas exposure, such as blood, optic nerve, and nervous system abnormalities, the Pesticide Action Network said.
De-icing fumes have also been implicated in illnesses among airline crew and passengers. In 2008, for example, around 25 Alaska Airline passengers and crew were treated for irritated eyes and vomiting after de-icing fumes filled the cabin.
Legal Actions Involving Toxic Airplane Air
In 2009, several lawsuits were filed by people who claimed to have become ill following fume events on commercial aircraft. One such lawsuit was filed by a flight attendant who was working on a McDonnell Douglas MD-82 operated by American Airlines in 2007. According to the complaint, at one point during the flight, a misty haze appeared in the cabin. By the time the plane landed in Dallas, the victim was suffering from a sore throat, headache and cough.
Within a short time, these symptoms grew worse, and came to include a nasal discharge that was a neon green color. After a few weeks, a neurologist determined that the flight attendant was a victim of toxic exposure. According to a lawsuit filed against Boeing, the owner of McDonnell Douglas, the victim continues to suffer from migraine headaches, tremors, and blind spots in her field of vision.
A second lawsuit filed in 2009 by two sisters claims they became ill following a fume event on a Southwest Airlines flight in January of that year. The plaintiffs allege that during the flight, many of those aboard suffered breathing difficulties. The women also said “super-heated” air came out of the vents, and that they saw a mist in the cabin. The flight was forced to make an emergency landing because of those problems. The sisters have allegedly suffered from feelings of lethargy and paralysis, tremors, unbearable headaches, numbness, rashes, ears ringing and vision problems ever since the incident.
In other toxic air lawsuits, airline crews have alleged that maintenance records revealed a pattern of periodic leaks of hydraulic fluid and jet-engine lubrication oil into the air supply system of McDonnell Douglas MD-80s. Since 1989, flight attendants from Alaska Airlines have filed more than 900 workers compensation claims for fatigue, headaches, dizziness, disorientation, memory loss and other problems they believe stem from exposure to tainted cabin air in MD-80s. In 2001, the airline finalized a settlement with 26 flight attendants and their spouses over toxic airplane air illnesses.
In 1999, a flight attendant successfully sued Ansett Australia under Australia’s Workers Compensation Act because fumes from a BAe146 cockpit were found to have aggravated a medical condition. A similar lawsuit was filed by a second flight attendant the following year. BAE Systems has since introduced design modifications to the auxiliary power units and the air conditioning system on the BAe 146 to reduce the incidence of escaping fumes.
Legal Help for Victims of Aero Toxicity Syndrome
If you experienced tremors, chronic headaches, numbness, vision problems or other symptoms following travel on a commercial airline, you may have valuable legal rights. Please fill out our online form, or call 1800 YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) as soon as possible to discuss your case with one of our toxic airplane air lawyers.