Lawsuits have been filed against airlines by passengers and crew-members who developed serious health problems after breathing toxic chemical fumes in the cabin air on airplanes.
Need a Texas Aerotoxic Syndrome Lawyer? Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged. If you or a loved one was diagnosed with health problems after breathing toxic chemical fumes on an airplane, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit.
UPDATE: Woman Sickened by Cabin Air Files Lawsuit Against Spirit Airlines
In December 2020, Spirit Airlines was hit with a lawsuit from a woman who had to be hospitalized after breathing a “fetid, noxious, burning odor” on a flight in July 2018. The plane had to make an emergency landing due to the fumes. Many passengers reported headaches, nausea, and difficulty breathing.
What is the Problem?
Unknown to most people who fly, the cabin air we breathe on most passenger aircraft passes through the jet engines — and this air, also called “bleed air,” sometimes contains powerful neurotoxic chemicals.
Airlines have known for decades that “bleed air” that goes to the cabin can be contaminated with fumes from the jet engines. Even so, this problematic design has been standard on airlines since the 1960s.
Even today, the cabin air on most passenger airplanes is still not filtered or scrubbed clean, nor is it monitored with air-quality sensors to warn the flight crew when a dangerous fume event is happening.
Did You Have Jet Lag — Or Aerotoxic Syndrome?
If you ever felt a little bit sick after flying, you probably blamed it on jet lag. The reality is that many people with headaches, fatigue, nausea, coughing, and achy muscles were actually breathing toxic fumes.
What is Aerotoxic Syndrome?
Symptoms of Low-Level or Single Fume Event Exposure
The symptoms of being exposed to a single “fume event” or short-term low exposure to toxic chemicals on an airplane may include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blurry vision
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Mild cognitive impairment
- Trouble breathing
Severe Symptoms May Not Appear Right Away
The long-term symptoms of Aerotoxic Syndrome may not appear right away, but they can last for years. Severe cases can end a pilot’s career and cause lifelong disability. The risk is highest for people who have one big exposure to a fume event, or multiple low-level exposures after years of piloting, frequent flying, or working on planes.
Long-Term Symptoms of Aerotoxic Syndrome & Chemical Exposures
- Brain damage
- Toxic encephalopathy
- Memory loss
- Poor coordination
- Migraine headaches
- Chronic fatigue
- Vision problems
- Psychiatric symptoms
- Depression, anxiety, irritability, etc.
- Tremors (shaky hands)
- Skin symptoms (rashes, itching, etc.)
How Common Are Fume Events?
Tends of thousands of flight-crews and passengers are exposed to toxic cabin air during hundreds of fume events every year, according to the Los Angeles Times. There were nearly 400 incidents in a 2-year period:
- 362 fume events on airplanes from January 2018 to December 2019
- Nearly 400 passengers, flight crew, and pilots needed medical attention
- 73 flights where pilots used emergency oxygen
- 48 pilots were unable to perform their duties, such as flying or landing the plane safely
JetBlue Pilot Wins Lawsuit for Toxic Encephalopathy
In March 2020, a JetBlue pilot won a significant workers’ compensation lawsuit for permanent brain injuries he suffered after breathing toxic fumes during a single fume event in January 2017 on an Airbus A320. He was diagnosed with toxic encephalopathy.
Boeing Pays Settlement to Flight Attendant Sickened on Flight to Dallas, Texas
In June 2011, Boeing paid a lawsuit settlement to Terry Williams, a former American Airlines flight attendant who breathed toxic fumes on a flight to Dallas, Texas.
Williams claims she still suffers from tremors, memory loss, severe headaches, and other symptoms after a single fume event in April 2007 on a Boeing MD-82 aircraft, when smoke and oil fumes leaked into the cabin as they taxied to the gate.
Her lawyers accused Boeing manufacturing airplanes with a hazardous air supply: “To this day, the only thing filtering this toxic soup out of the cabin are the lungs of the passengers and crew.”
Boeing Sued Over Toxic Fumes In Aircraft | NBC Nightly News
What Chemicals Might Be In Cabin Air?
- Oil lubricants
- Tricresyl Phosphate (TCP)
- Hydraulic fluid fumes
- Carbon monoxide gas
- Kerosene fumes
- Flame-retardant chemicals
- Powerful disinfectant chemicals
What is TCP?
Jet engines get extremely hot, so they must use a special type of lubricating oil that contains Tricresyl Phosphate (TCP). Unfortunately, this chemical releases fumes when it gets hot. It also belongs to the same chemical family as sarin nerve gas. Breathing even small amounts of TCP can cause permanent brain damage.
Side Effects of Breathing TCP Fumes in Cabin Air
Most jet engine oil fumes on aircraft in the U.S. contain 1-10% TCPs. Breathing TCPs is known to cause stomach cramps, weakness, flu-like symptoms, and problems with gait, balance, or tingling/numbness.
Furthermore, even low-level exposure to TCP can cause long-term symptoms, such as fatigue, memory loss, poor concentration, and speech delays. The symptoms may also worsen over days or weeks.
Lawmakers Criticize JetBlue’s “Disturbing Pattern” of Fume Events
In early 2019, more than 50 JetBlue flights had to make emergency landings, diversions, or return to the gate due to fumes. At least 46 passengers and crew-members reported health problems from fumes.
In September 2019, Rep. John Garamendi and Sen. Richard Blumenthal sent a warning letter (PDF) to JetBlue CEO Robyn Hayes, demanding answers for a “disturbing pattern” of toxic fume events on JetBlue’s fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft over the past few months:
“These events pose a significant health risk to in-flight crew members and passengers — placing your employees and customers in harm’s way … There have been reports that your company is reclassifying these as ‘odor events’ in an apparent attempt to skirt Federal Aviation Administration reporting standards, as well as state and local workers’ compensation laws.”
Need an Aerotoxic Syndrome Lawyer in Texas?
Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged.
Collen’s amazing success in the courtroom and well known dedication to his clients has earned him the recognition of his peers as one of The Top Trial Lawyers in Texas.”
The Clark Firm has assembled a team of trial lawyers with more than 100 years experience, participation in over 600 jury trials and $260 million in verdicts and/or settlements. Please use the form below to contact our law firm for a free case review.