Lawyer warns that many people working in the airline industry could be being slowly poisoned due to the release of toxins into aircraft cabins.
Leading industrial diseases lawyer Harminder Bains is representing former pilots who allege that Aerotoxic Syndrome, which is believed to cause serious harm through prolonged exposure to toxins within aircraft and can be fatal, has significantly affected their health.
The warning comes as Berkshire coroner Peter Bedford indicated that Aerotoxic Syndrome, or toxic air syndrome, could have been the cause of the death of a British Airways steward who died suddenly in January last year, aged 35.
The preliminary inquest into the death of Matthew Bass from Clapham, heard how an initial post-mortem examination failed to find a cause of death. A second test, paid for by his parents, revealed the presence of specific toxins in their son’s body.
Lawyers for the family allege that these toxins, organophosphates, are released when substances such as aeroplane engine oil is heated, releasing the toxins into a plane’s cabin.
Being exposed to organophosphates has been linked to long-term health problems, which have been grouped under the term ‘Aerotoxic Syndrome’.
Harry Steinberg, the lawyer representing the Bass family, argued that the toxins were responsible for Mr Bass’s death.
The Reading Court heard how the death of Mr Bass resembled that of BA pilot Richard Westgate, who is also believed to have died from Aerotoxic Syndrome in 2012.
The lawyer for British Airways David Platt insisted there is ‘no evidence that Aerotoxic Syndrome even exists’, adding: ‘No health agencies and no governments are accepting this exists. It must be seen as a highly controversial assumption to make.’
However Coroner Peter Bedford told the preliminary inquest in Reading that a previous investigation, upheld by the High Court in New South Wales, Australia, ‘outlined the respiratory effects of organophosphate poisoning’.
Harminder Bains, from the industrial diseases team at Leigh Day said: “We are becoming increasingly concerned by not only the number of people affected by this syndrome, but also by the unwillingness by the industry to perform sufficient research into the potential effects of these toxins within aircraft.
“We would urge the industry to explore not only the dangers of flight, but also the dangers from within the cabin.”