As health and safety representatives, we are committed to standards that emphasise measures to prevent exposure to particular chemical compounds on aircraft, and which are appropriately protective of crew and passenger health and safety.
Scientists have long recognised that aircraft air supply systems can be contaminated with pyrolysed engine oil. This can lead to crew members being impaired – with negative implications for flight safety. As an example, it has been known for years that when aviation engine oils are heated, a potent neurotoxic chemical called TMPP (trimethylolpropane phosphate) can be formed. Exposure to TMPP is associated with epileptic type seizures, convulsions, tremors, and changes to social/emotional behaviours.
In addition, there is a need to investigate and more clearly define the toxicity of inhaling the relevant types of complex chemical mixtures (for example, engine oil fumes) in the reduced pressure aircraft environment.
In order to achieve this, the ETF and its affiliates are very active on the subject of cabin air quality, especially through the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN/TC 436 “Cabin air quality on civil aircraft: Chemical agents”).
We have the final goal of developing an airliner cabin air quality standard intended to protect aircrews and consumers from onboard exposure to chemical agents sourced to the cabin/flight deck ventilation supply air.
In addition, specific work is done by the ETF on the effects of ultrafine particles at airports.