Since September 2016, American Airlines pilots and crew have new uniforms that are allegedly making them literally sick. In May, a pilot with American told the airline’s president that he felt unsafe in the cockpit because of the uniforms. The pilot said he had breathing issues and headaches when he was wearing the uniform in the cockpit, reports WGN TV9.
Flight Attendant Blogs About Health Concerns
A flight attendant for American Airlines has been blogging about the uniform that she says has had an adverse effect on her health. The attendant has hypothyroidism and maintains that the new outfit has adversely affected her condition and caused reactions from “chemicals” in the uniform. She reported that other employees have complained of health problems from respiratory issues to fertility problems, since the new uniforms were introduced, according to the New York Post.
Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is when the body doesn’t produce sufficient thyroid hormone, thus affecting the brain, mood, and body function. According to the American Thyroid Association (ATA), about five percent of United States adults suffer from the condition, making it the most prevalent immune disease in North America. Commonplace symptoms are weight gain, moodiness, extreme fatigue, and digestive upset.
The flight attendant said most recently, that she has fallen prey to internet trolls who doubt her uniform has led to health problems. “Over the last nine months, I was called ‘psycho’ and ‘crazy,’” she blogged. “Because the sexy stereotype won’t die, nobody cares when we have something serious to discuss.”
She has stopped wearing the potentially toxic uniform, but her problems have not subsided, and insists that even being near her co-workers wearing the new uniform has negatively affected her health. At some point, her reaction was severe enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room, the Post reports.
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Flight Attendants File Complaints
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants reports that over 3,000 members have filed complaints concerning the new uniforms. American Airlines, however, estimates approximately 800 complaints among all employees, including four pilots, according to the Post.
The flight attendant added that flight attendants from other airlines have reported thyroid problems when they were issued uniforms made by the same manufacturer, Twin Hill, a subsidiary of Tailored Brands, Inc. The manufacturer has denied these claims and said it has, to date, not found “any medical or scientific evidence indicating there is anything unsafe about the uniforms.”
“Let the record state that I can’t prove that any of my health problems are in fact caused by my wearing the uniform. “I dread going to work. I love my job, but my job is making me sick,” wrote the flight attendant, reports the Post.
American Airlines’ Reaction
To date, American Airlines has refused to recall the uniforms. American distributed 1.5 million pieces to 70,000 employees in the first large-scale uniform change in 30 years. An independent and accredited laboratory, TUV Rheinland, was reportedly engaged to conduct extensive tests on random samples of every fabric in the whole collection.
“Though each garment style incorporated a different variety of fabrics and other materials in its construction, the results of every test revealed that the uniforms did not contain any prohibited chemicals and were at or below the established limits for those chemical commonly utilized in garment manufacturing,” American told the Post in a statement.
The airline company has given the staff a few options, including getting another supplier for flight attendants and customer-service agents. Pilots have been issued non-wool and cotton uniforms from Twin Hill, and American is attempting to come up with an additional option. Employees are also being allowed to wear old uniforms.
Approximately 100 cockpit crew members have reported itching, skin problems, along with other health issues. The Allied Pilots Association (APA) spokesman, Dennis Tajer said that a few pilots became so ill they could not fly. Other pilots found they had symptoms only while wearing the new uniforms. “They have to be fit for duty. If the uniform is making them not fit for duty, then something has to change.”
“We don’t know what we’re going to find out,” Tajer said. “It’s certainly not the same number as the flight attendants, but there is some real concern that there’s a bigger problem out there.”
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