Firstly ensure the fumes have been reported on a Mandatory Occurrence Report form (MOR) and entered into the tech log for the engineers to investigate. Each crew member involved should also complete an Incident Report, take photocopies, keep one and send a copy to your union.
There is still no definitive blood test available to crew to prove you’ve been in a fume event. There is a test that looks for carbon monoxide, the carboxyhaemoglobin blood test, this needs to be done within 24 hours of exposure.
Another useful one is the acetyl cholinesterase test. Your cholinesterase level will be lowered by exposure to organophosphates, you need to have it done within 72 hours of exposure. Both of these tests can be done on the NHS at A&E. Everyone’s cholinesterase level is different, this is why we all have differing abilities to detoxify. For this test to be helpful you need to know what your base level is, ie what’s “normal” for you so you need to ask your doctor to test your acetyl cholinesterase level again when you haven’t flown for at least 3 weeks. Workers who know they are exposed to OPs have to have their levels tested every month, if it dips below 10% of their base level they have to stay off work until it recovers. Frequent low level exposures can lower your cholinesterase level without you knowing, then just another small exposure will give you the same symptoms as a large one.
As soon as possible after the event get your heart rate & blood pressure checked. Exposure to organophosphates can interfere with the electrical conduction in the body so also ask for an ECG. Lung function tests, oxygen saturation, liver function & thyroid function tests can be useful too.
Handy fume event guide:
There is a urine test available now that looks for 172 toxic chemicals, Biolab in London can arrange this for you.
Biolab recommends ordering the ORGANIC ACIDS test and get TCP written on the requisition form and they will test for metabolites of TCP free of charge. They also recommend having the toxic chemical test too (GPL-TOX profile), normally the tests are £160 each but they will do both for £290 for crew. This needs to be done as soon as possible after exposure, the urine kit can be ordered over the phone so ring Biolab as soon after your fume event as you can on 020 7636 5959/5905. Please specify when you ring Biolab whether you just want the organic acids test & TCP for £160 or the toxic chemical profile as well.
If you have a fume event on your outbound flight I would recommend you email Biolab to order the test so it’s waiting for you as soon as you get back: email@example.com
If you haven’t been in a recent fume event but want to know what stored chemicals you have then a fat biopsy can be done, again Biolab can arrange this for you. There is also now a new, validated hair test kit available from Aerotoxic Team (aerotoxicteam.com) and A.V.A.S (Association Victims de Aerotoxique Syndrome)which can determine long term exposure to TCP.
Once these initial tests have been done you may wish to consult an environmental doctor for help with getting well. One I’ve heard good things about recently is Dr Dee Marshall. Appointments can be made with her PA on 07738 009978 or 07958 163013 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The next step is finding out what nutrient deficiencies you have and correcting them, your GP should be able to do this for you.
Then you will need to detox to get the toxins out of your system. Keep away from chemicals, make your home as environmentally friendly as possible, eat organic food, consider buying a slow juicer to juice organic veg daily, have saunas or buy your own Far Infra Red Sauna (Get-Fitt.comwill give you 10% discount if you mention you heard about them through Toxic Free Airlines.)
2 excellent health books to read are Detoxify or Die by Sherry Rogers MD and Never Fear Cancer Again by Raymond Francis.
A self help guide by an aerotoxic victim is available from Amazon The Air I Breathe – it’s Classified, by Bearnidine Beaumont.
Ring the Unite fume legal helpline: 0333 014 6569.
Keep a disposable face mask in your pocket to help protect you from fumes. You can purchase these from our shop http://aerotoxic.org/shop/
Join the Matt Bass campaign and write to your MP: http://mattbass.co.uk/
Fill in a Crew Health Survey: http://toxicfreeairlines.com/…/what-you-…/crew-health-survey
If I have these tests done will I be able to sue?
Proving that what is in your system got there from flying is very difficult. There hasn’t yet been a single successful lawsuit in this country. If you have been away from flying for 2 months or more I would consider having blood tests & urine tests done at Biolab before you return to flying so you have a “baseline.” If you then suffer a fume event and have the tests repeated you stand a better chance of being able to take legal action.
IS THERE ANYTHING CABIN CREW CAN DO IF THE PILOTS REFUSE TO REPORT FUMES?
Keep a copy of CAP382 on you: http://publicapps.caa.co.uk/docs/33/CAP382.PDF since I posted about this on Facebook the PDF has been removed from the CAA website so I’ve attached a copy for you.
This is the MANDATORY OCCURRENCE REPORTING scheme
A reportable occurrence is defined as “Any incident which endangers or which, if not corrected, would endanger an aircraft, its occupants or any other person.”
“Toxic/noxious fumes” and cabin crew incapacitation are both reportable occurrences.
Ask the SCCM to politely remind the pilots that the Commander of the aircraft is REQUIRED to report any incidence of fumes.
The CAA “encourages” voluntary reporting so any member of the cabin crew, or even passengers, can also make a report. Inform the Captain that you will be submitting a report to the CAA and you will note in your report that he refused to report a mandatory occurrence. That should help to change his/her mind!
Completed reports should be sent to: SAFETY DATA, CAA, AVIATION HOUSE, GATWICK AIRPORT SOUTH, WEST SUSSEX, RH6 0YR. email@example.com
Tel: 01293 573220
Ensure the incident is noted in the cabin log if the pilots won’t put it in their technical log. Include as much detail as possible: what the smell was like, how strong, how long it was smelt for, where on the a/c it could be smelt, any ill effects suffered etc
Ensure you also have the most recent International Civil Aviation Organization guidelines on fumes with you, I’ve attached a copy for you.
Print out fume guidelines.
Buy protection face mask.
1. Ensure incident entered in technical log.
2. Report incident to your airline, CAA & Union.
3. Take & keep copies.
4. Get bloods taken.
5. Collect urine samples.
6. Get tests done as listed above.
7. Fill in Crew Health Survey.
8. Write to your MP.