The ITF has long recognised the negative implications for flight safety and workers’ health of exposure to engine oil fumes on commercial and cargo aircraft. Airline workers and passengers can be exposed to fumes as a result of defective designs that use as the sole source of onboard air unfiltered engine air.
There is growing published evidence of the toxicity of these oil fumes and the increase in reported fume incidents in which flight safety was compromised because of crew member impairment. This reflects the experience of union members, who report being made sick by exposure to oil fumes on board. Ground workers are at risk, too – when they are close to the exhaust from aircraft engines or diesel engines in service vehicles they are exposed to a complex mixture of potential health damaging air pollutants.
ITF civil aviation secretary Gabriel Mocho said: “The formation of this working group confirms the high priority that the ITF has assigned to addressing the hazards of exposure to oil-contaminated ventilation air on aircraft. It complements our existing efforts to raise awareness in our affiliated unions about how to recognize and respond to the presence of onboard oil fumes.
“The expert members from our affiliates will play an influential role in deciding future ITF actions to address this flight safety and worker health hazard.”
The ITF is hosting the annual public forum of the Global Cabin Air Quality Executive (GCAQE) on 25 February at ITF House, which will be attended and addressed by world authorities on the medical science of human exposure to contaminated aircraft cabin air.
Read more aviation news at the ITF aviation blog.