Aerotoxic syndrome after fume events
Health consequences of exposure to aircraft contaminated air and fume events: a narrative review and medical protocol for the investigation of exposed aircrew and passengers
by Burdon J, Budnik LT, Baur X, et al. Health consequences of exposure to aircraft contaminated air and fume events: a narrative review and medical protocol for the investigation of exposed aircrew and passengers. Environmental Health. 2023;22(1):22-43.
Thermally degraded engine oil and hydraulic fluid fumes contaminating aircraft cabin air conditioning systems have been well documented since the 1950s. Whilst organophosphates have been the main subject of interest, oil and hydraulic fumes in the air supply also contain ultrafine particles, numerous volatile organic hydrocarbons and thermally degraded products. We review the literature on the effects of fume events on aircrew health. Inhalation of these potentially toxic fumes is increasingly recognised to cause acute and long-term neurological, respiratory, cardiological and other symptoms. Cumulative exposure to regular small doses of toxic fumes is potentially damaging to health and may be exacerbated by a single higher-level exposure. Assessment is complex because of the limitations of considering the toxicity of individual substances in complex heated mixtures.
There is a need for a systematic and consistent approach to diagnosis and treatment of persons who have been exposed to toxic fumes in aircraft cabins. The medical protocol presented in this paper has been written by internationally recognised experts and presents a consensus approach to the recognition, investigation and management of persons suffering from the toxic effects of inhaling thermally degraded engine oil and other fluids contaminating the air conditioning systems in aircraft, and includes actions and investigations for in-flight, immediately post-flight and late subsequent follow up.