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International Cabin Safety Symposium hosted by the Southern California Safety Institute Montréal, Québec, Canada 12 February 2008 Chris Witkowski Director, Air Safety, Health & Security Dept. Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO. Cabin Air Quality: Contamination and Research.

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cabin air quality contamination and research

International Cabin Safety Symposiumhosted by the Southern California Safety InstituteMontréal, Québec, Canada12 February 2008Chris WitkowskiDirector, Air Safety, Health & Security Dept.Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO

Cabin Air Quality:

Contamination and Research

aircraft air supply can be contaminated with toxic oils hydraulic fluids
AIRCRAFT AIR SUPPLY CAN BE CONTAMINATED WITH TOXIC OILS/HYDRAULIC FLUIDS
  • Engine oil and hydraulic fluids can leak into the aircraft air supply system
    • Inadequate or improper maintenance
    • Poorly designed systems
    • Bad luck

AFA-CWA ASHSD

what are the warning signs
WHAT ARE THE WARNING SIGNS?
  • May see mist or haze in cabin, or may not
  • May smell dirty socks (carboxylic acids in hot oil) or burning oil, or may not
  • Likely feel sick – nauseous/stomach cramping, confused, dizzy, disoriented, headache, weak muscles
  • Affects different people differently (genetics, physiological differences, past exposures, etc.)

AFA-CWA ASHSD

how do we know that contamination happens
HOW DO WE KNOW THAT CONTAMINATION HAPPENS?
  • Aircraft mechanical records confirm contamination in air supply systems
  • Airlines report some events to the FAA (U.S. Federal Aviation Administration)
  • Oils contain known neurotoxins and when heated, oils/HF give off carbon monoxide
    • Crews consistently report neurological and respiratory symptoms during/after events

AFA-CWA ASHSD

slide5
The documentary

Welcome Aboard Toxic Airlines

93 minute feature length documentary.

Directed and Produced by Tristan Loraine

Fact Not Fiction Films Ltd 2007

www.welcomeaboardtoxicairlines.com

AFA-CWA ASHSD

more proof of exposure wipe samples
More proof of exposure: wipe samples
  • Pilots/flight attendants in US, Australia, Canada, and UK have collected “wipe samples” from the surfaces of the cabin/flight deck walls and sent samples to lab for analysis.
  • Almost all samples came back positive for TCPs, proving that oil aerosol enters cabin/flight deck. Expect results to be published in toxicology journal this year.

AFA-CWA ASHSD

examples of events
EXAMPLES OF EVENTS
  • Toxic Air Video - Pilot Description of Incident

AFA-CWA ASHSD

does faa require airlines to report events
DOES FAA REQUIRE AIRLINES TO REPORT EVENTS?
  • YES: FAA requires airlines to report events involving “smoke, vapor, or toxic or noxious fumes" in the cabin or flight deck to its Service Difficulty Reporting System (14 CFR 121.703(a)(5)); also applies to ground based events if flight safety is compromised, but FAA recently acknowledged “numerous air carriers/operators who may not have reported these events as required by regulation.” (FSAW 06-05A, Mar 2006)

AFA-CWA ASHSD

how often does this happen
HOW OFTEN DOES THIS HAPPEN?
  • AFA and IAM reviewed FAA Service Difficulty Reporting System, crew reports filed with member airlines, and news clips; found 476 events for an 18 month period (Jan 1, 2006 – June 30, 2007) = average of 0.9 events per day on US fleet withengine oil (some hydraulic fluid) in aircraft air supply
  • Guaranteed underestimate; about half of incident flights are diverted; costs $80-200K per diversion

AFA-CWA ASHSD

events seen across fleet but more common on particular aircraft types
Events seen across fleet but more common on particular aircraft types
  • Found 476 reports on 47 aircraft types
  • Most common aircraft types identified in dataset are MD80, B737, B757, Embraer 145, and Canadair CL600
  • Other problem aircraft: BAe146, A320

AFA-CWA ASHSD

objective means to prove exposure blood test biomarker
Objective means to prove exposure: blood test (“biomarker”)
  • Researcher has successfully identified a protein in the blood that gets modified in a predictable way after exposure
  • Benefits of Testing
    • supports a correct medical diagnosis
    • directly proves exposure (not just potential for exposure)
    • testing within several months after an event will still prove exposure

AFA-CWA ASHSD

recent air samples from bae 146 flights outside of north america
Recent Air Samples from BAe 146 Flights Outside of North America
  • Two separate flights stealth-sampled by one pilot
    • Same aircraft tail number
    • Tricresylphosphate (TCP) found in the cabin air in both
  • 1st sampled flight
    • Pilot smelled odors
    • “Had a headache for 5 days”
    • Maintenance identified Auxiliary Power Unit leak

AFA-CWA ASHSD

recent air samples from bae 146 flights outside of north america15
Recent Air Samples from BAe 146 Flights Outside of North America
  • 2nd sampled flight
    • APU switched off
    • TCP still found in the cabin air but at 1/10 the concentration found on the 1st flight
    • No acute health effects reported by pilot

AFA-CWA ASHSD

recent air samples from bae 146 flights outside of north america16
Recent Air Samples from BAe 146 Flights Outside of North America
  • Many pilots feel compelled to be discreet about exposures
    • They are entrusted with passengers’ lives in operating the aircraft
    • But what happens if they sample for contaminants that could incapacitate them?
  • Standard practice in workplaces is to conduct independent sampling of breathing air for contaminants
    • But Not In The AIRCRAFT
    • What’s wrong with this picture?

AFA-CWA ASHSD

jet engine oils
Jet Engine Oils

AFA-CWA ASHSD

oil smell detection service
Oil Smell Detection Service
  • Oil smell in cabin often requires taking engine off wing
  • Major airline: dismantling engine costs350,000 USD
  • Need to identify which engine has a problem
  • If wrong engine removed, money is wasted

AFA-CWA ASHSD

oil smell detection service19
Oil Smell Detection Service
  • Lufthansa estimates 20 oil smell events in a year for a fleet of 100 planes
    • Assume each plane flies every day an average of 3 segments
    • Then one oil event for each 5500 flights (20/365x3x100)
    • Actual number of segments in a year may well be less than 5500 (i.e., transoceanic flights, aircraft down for maintenance)
    • Still, 1 per 5500 means 5 incidents per day in US alone

AFA-CWA ASHSD

cabin air quality bleed air research project
Cabin Air Quality Bleed AirResearch Project
  • OHRCA:Occupational Health Research Consortium in Aviation
  • ACER:Airliner Cabin Environment Research, FAA Center of Excellence

AFA-CWA ASHSD

national research council reports
National Research Council Reports
  • The Airliner Cabin Environment: Air Quality and Safety (NRC, 1986)
  • The Airliner Cabin Environment and the Health of Passengers and Crew (NRC, 2002)
    • Committee on Air Quality in Passenger Cabins of Commercial Aircraft
    • Recommended high priority cabin air quality research questions: ozone, cabin air pressure and oxygen partial pressure, outside air ventilation, air quality incidents, pesticide exposure, relative humidity.

AFA-CWA ASHSD

sec 815 air quality in aircraft cabins
Sec. 815 Air Quality in Aircraft Cabins

Vision 100 – Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act (United States Congress 2003)

  • conduct surveillance to monitor ozone in the cabin
  • collect pesticideexposure data to determine exposures of passengers and crew;
  • analyze samples of residue from aircraft ventilation ducts and filters after air quality incidents to identify the contaminants to which passengers and crew were exposed;
  • analyze and study cabin air pressure and altitude; and
  • establish an air quality incident reporting system.

AFA-CWA ASHSD

overall purpose of project
Overall Purpose of Project
  • To plan a study of cabin crew that will examine air quality and health effects, and possible relationships between the two
    • Feasibility Study will test air sampler and data collection tools aboard aircraft as well as logistics of recruitment and distribution of data collection tools.
  • Funded by the FAA Office of Aerospace Medicine

AFA-CWA ASHSD

medical protocol
Medical Protocol
  • AIM: To collect, review, and summarize available medical evidence provided by crewmembers that have reported exposure incident(s) to develop standardized medical evaluation protocols.
  • "Management of Exposure to Aircraft Bleed Air Contaminants Among Airline Workers: A Guide for Health Care Providers“ is posted in the results section on www.ohrca.org.

AFA-CWA ASHSD

flight attendant health survey
Flight Attendant Health Survey
  • Flight attendants from two airlines participated from June - December 2007.
  • Surveys were self reported:
    • Work history as flight attendant
    • Working conditions
    • Health history
      • Work related injuries/illnesses in past year
      • Symptoms in past week and past year
      • Conditions reported by a health care provider
      • Basic demographics and smoking habits

AFA-CWA ASHSD

flight attendant health survey26
Flight Attendant Health Survey
  • Mailed to a random sample of active flight attendants and handed out over a period of days in selected major hubs of two airlines
  • 4,012 completed surveys, strong response rate
  • Preliminary report will be out in weeks
  • Full report will be out in a few months

AFA-CWA ASHSD

cabin air sampling
Cabin Air Sampling
  • The VN Sampler
    • Lightweight
    • Easy to operate
    • EMF tested, approved for in-flight use
    • Collects particulates, semi-volatiles on filter
    • Looking particularly for engine oil components in bleed air

AFA-CWA ASHSD

cabin air sampling28
Cabin Air Sampling
  • Researchers and project staff are carrying and activating samplers on paid flights with FAA approval letter
    • Original plan for crew participation in sampling prevented by airlines
  • Crew is notified on the plane
  • No problems to date with TSA, passengers, or crew
  • 47 flight segments sampled to date in the first phase of sampling

AFA-CWA ASHSD

cabin air sampling29
Cabin Air Sampling
  • 20 additional flight segments are currently being collected with side-by-side sampling (duplicates) for analytical quality control
  • Analysis includes detection of TCP isomers (engine oil component)
  • Preliminary report will be out in weeks
  • Full report will be out in a few months

AFA-CWA ASHSD

status of feasibility testing
Status of Feasibility Testing
  • Able to obtain baseline health information from flight attendants –meaningful for linking health effects to exposure sampling in future research
    • Not able to link flight attendant health and exposure data in this study since flight attendants were not allowed to carry air samplers
  • Able to deploy samplers nationally and sample on aircraft with no flight disruption
  • Analysis demonstrates that VN sampler is capable of capturing contaminants of interest in the lab and in the cabin environment

AFA-CWA ASHSD

project outcomes
Project outcomes
  • A guide to health care providers to help diagnose and manage bleed air contamination exposure of airline workers
  • A report of baseline health information with a large flight attendant population
  • A report of TCP detection levels from samples collected in flight on commercial aircraft
  • A plan for a future study to better understand crew health and bleed air contamination exposures

AFA-CWA ASHSD

slide32

FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact:

Chris Witkowski, AFA

Phone: +1-202-434-0593

Email: [email protected]

Website: http://ashsd.afacwa.org

For a copy of the Aviation Contaminated Air Reference

Manual (ISBN9780955567209) contact

Captain Susan Michaelis

[email protected]

www.susanmichaelis.com

AFA-CWA ASHSD

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