How Airplane Cabin Air Can Get You Sick

Cabin ventilation air comes through the engine. So, if there's an oil leak, engine oil mist -- containing neurotoxins -- can seep into the aircraft. Though relatively rare, it has happened on commercial flights, triggering neurological symptoms like severe headaches, tremors, and dizziness in crew members and passengers.

Although Boeing's NEW 787's will be made so this doesn't happen, they admit that yes, passengers in every other plane can get oil mists during flights that cause oil to go into passenger’s lungs and brains … and may ultimately be fatal.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

When you think about airplane cabin air, it’s likely you first think about catching a virus or other germ that gets passed through the plane’s circulation system. But this may be the least of your worries, as revealed by these CNN videos above.

The fresh air in a plane’s cabin, known as “bleed air,” is brought in through the engine. Because of this, toxins from the engine oil or hydraulic fluid can seep into the airplane -- either in minute quantities that accumulate over time, or in larger amounts if there’s a leak.

In the latter case, crew members and passengers have suffered from headaches, dizziness, tremors and other neurological symptoms after inhaling the toxins during their flight. Even in small quantities, pilots and flight attendants have suffered long-term neurological symptoms, including tremors, that appear to be the result of long-term exposure to aircraft engine oil contaminants.

An In-Flight Neurotoxin

As you snack on peanuts or take in your in-flight movie, you may also be getting exposed to Tricresyl Phosphate (TCP), a neurotoxin that is chemically similar to a pesticide.

TCP is an antiwear additive added to engine oil that is known to cause neurological damage in humans. According to a CNN investigation, TCP residue was found clinging to airplane seats and tray tables, and analyses of swabs from 40 different flights found TCP present on virtually every flight.

Aside from accumulating on surfaces, TCP may also contaminate air. The so-called “fume events” are not common, but major aircraft manufacturers, including Boeing and Airbus, acknowledge that they do happen.

The Federal Aviation Administration recorded over 900 fume events between 1999 and 2008, according to the Wall Street Journal. They also cite data from a British government committee that estimated, based on pilot reports, that 1 percent of flights may experience a fume event.

Still other statistics from the WSJ say that fume events occur on between 14 and 279 flights that take off in the United States each day.

So the numbers are all over the place, and some industry unions believe the events are under-reported as well. What is known, however, is that people, especially pilots and flight attendants, are continuing to get sick from exposure to contaminated cabin air.

What Can You do About Contaminated Cabin Air?

The newest planes from Boeing, the 787s, have addressed this and have designs to prevent this from happening. However it will be many years before any of us will fly that aircraft and even when they are available they will be a small minority of the planes.

As it stands, there’s not much you can do to lower your risk of in-flight exposure to TCP or other contaminants.

Airline-worker unions have suggested putting filters on the bleed-air systems to help stop the spread of air pollutants, but, according to WSJ, this step would require a major overhauling of the engines to maintain fuel efficiency and proper air flow … making it a step that is nowhere near ready to be taken.

So until this issue gets more attention, it’s likely that people will continue to be sickened by fume events when they occur. If you fly only occasionally, your risks are probably low. But if you’re a frequent traveler or someone who works in the industry, you may want to consider using a personal air purifier to at least cut down on your exposure to cabin air contaminants.

I’d also recommend washing your clothing and showering as soon as possible after your flight to remove any potentially lingering traces of TCP that you’ve picked up from the cabin surfaces themselves.

New Simple Trick to Virtually Eliminate All of the EMF Risk

There is also the issue of EMF exposure from flying seven miles up. To counter this, one option is to fly at night.

I recently learned that 99% of EMF's are from the sun's rays during the flight - which are blocked by the earth during evening flights.

Additionally, I personally apply some of the research and take 6-8 capsules of a high-quality polyphenolic antioxidant with resveratrol. I actually use our Purple Defense every time I fly to provide myself with protection from the EMF.

+ Sources and References