A flight attendant has successfully sued East-West Airlines after she fell ill breathing “toxic” air on an airplane.
Joanne Turner was taken ill during a flight from Sydney to Brisbane in 1992 on a British built aircraft when smoke infiltrated the cabin. Ms. Turner, who was 5 months pregnant at the time developed a long term respiratory condition. She then became embroiled in a 10 year legal battle against the airline and in September 2010 finally won a land mark case in the Australian High Court.
Cabin fumes are caused by warm compressed air supplied directly from the engines which is mixed inside the aircraft with re-circulated air. The valves in the engine which are designed to keep the oil and air separate are not completely effective and let a certain amount of oil into the air. If a large amount of oil mixes with the hot compressed air, fumes or smoke can enter the cabin.
The Aerotoxic Association in the UK claims it has been known for many years that long term inhalation of toxic fumes in the confines of a jet can cause serious health problems and contaminated cabin air could lead to aerotoxic syndrome in thousands of passengers and crew members each year.
Aerotoxic syndrome is not officially recognised and many medical practitioners are unaware of the condition. Sufferers are often diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity, viral infections or depression.