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Study: Aerotoxic Syndrome Is Real and Dangerous

Feel like you got “plane sick”? You might have—it’s an actual thing, says a new study.

We all know the feeling. You get off a long-haul flight (or if you’re super lucky, a short one) and suddenly you feel like you have a cold or the flu. You have a headache. You’re dizzy and you can’t see straight or breathe well. Colloquially, it’s called “plane sick” – the idea of catching some illness from either another person on a flight or from the recirculated air. And now, a study from Stirling University of more than 200 air cabin crews has confirmed it: The air inside planes can cause serious illness.

“This research provides very significant findings relevant to all aircraft workers and passengers globally,” Dr. Susan Michaelis, from Stirling’s occupational and environmental health research group, told the Daily Mail. “There is a clear cause-and-effect relationship linking health effects to a design feature that allows the aircraft air supply to become contaminated by engine oils and other fluids in normal flight. This is a clear occupational and public health issue with direct flight-safety consequences.”

Multiple surveys by the researchers showed anywhere from 65 percent to 93 percent of aircrew reporting illness from fumes and plane air.

“What we are seeing here is aircraft crew being repeatedly exposed to low levels of hazardous contaminants from the engine oils in air, and to a lesser extent this also applies to frequent fliers,” Vyvyan Howard, a professor at the University of Ulster, told the Daily Mail. “We know from a large body of toxicological scientific evidence that such an exposure pattern can cause harm and, in my opinion, explains why aircrew are more susceptible than average to associated illness. However, exposure to this complex mixture should be avoided also for passengers, susceptible individuals and the unborn.”

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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