Investigation into toxic plane cabin air launched
After conflicting scientific reports surfaced suggesting dangerous nerve gas elements in passenger aircraft cabins, Infrastructure Secretary Wilma Mansveld now wants European cooperation in researching the situation.The Minister is also establishing a national council to approach the issue. A group involving representatives of airlines, personnel and research institutes is expected to advise the minister on potential hazardous substances. Research done until now shows that some of the chemical compounds found in cabin air may cause damage to the nervous system in high concentration, while one scientist involved in a study denounced premature conclusions. European Agency for Aviation Safety (EASA) is now beginning a major study on the quality of cabin air on board large commercial aircraft. This research should shed light on the composition of chemicals that pollute the aircraft and the level of concentration in which such substances may be dangerous. One of the major concerns are tricresyl phosphate (TCP) substances that are added to the aircraft engine to make it more heat resistant. The component penetrates the cabin through the air conditioning system. Some pilots and crew members have previously reported strange symptoms. The question remains whether long-term exposure to low levels of TCP and other substances typically observe on board planes can cause damage to the nervous system or whether some people may be overly sensitive to the component.