Occasionally, a fault in aircraft engines causes a ‘fume event’ in which excessive amounts of fumes are released into the cabin air, often causing a musty smell. More commonly, cabin air becomes contaminated with exhaust fumes due to an inherent design flaw. This is why some cabin crew and pilots develop a condition called Aerotoxic Syndrome and why some people develop illnesses like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in the months following a flight. The main culprit appears to be the lubricant used in jet engines called tricresylphosphate, or TCP, that has been found – along with other toxic chemicals –in the blood of airline crew.
We are fortunate that our livers and kidneys are able to remove toxins from the body, but if they are overwhelmed – either due to insidious, chronic exposure, or from a sudden but high level of exposure – the chemicals remain in our bodies, compromising health and increasing the risk of the development of later health problems.
Signs and Symptoms of Aerotoxic Syndrome
Initially you may suffer from flu-like symptoms as the body tries to clear the chemicals from the body. John Hoyte, a retired BA Captain who set up the Aerotoxic Association believes that this can be wrongly dismissed as ‘jet lag’.
Over time you may experience fatigue, nervous symptoms, headaches, nausea, tingling and numbness, increased sensitivity to chemicals, decreased tolerance of alcohol, sleep problems and anxiety. Toxins also adversely affect the hormonal system so there may be PMS, fertility issues, thyroid imbalances, or poor blood sugar regulation.
Long-term kidney and/or liver problems may develop due to irritation from toxins and there is an increased risk of neurological diseases such as Motor Neurone Disease, Parkinson’s, M.S., M.E., dementia, or heart disease.
Treatment for Aerotoxic Syndrome
Although it is tempting to embark upon chelation programmes, this would be unwise as chelators can only remove around 21 metals, and may leave chemicals locked within the body. Chelators also remove vital minerals which, having been displaced by toxins, are often deficient.
The original reason for the development of Aerotoxic Syndrome is overwhelm of the detoxifying organs such as the liver, lungs and kidneys, leaving them congested and inefficient. Therefore mobilising toxins through the use of chelating agents could result in further organ damage and redistribution of toxins throughout the body.
A more effective approach involves reducing the toxic loading whilst supporting organ function and healthy elimination. This negates the need for unpleasant and challenging detox programmes and enables the body to release toxins at its own pace. Cutting edge treatments such as far infrared saunas, scenar therapy, mineral displacement, homotoxicology and naturopathic and nutritional techniques. Lab tests help identify where and how the body has been affected and this can inform a personalised treatment programme.