Aviation Toxicology Under A Blue Sky
Aerotoxic Global Network· Saturday, 17 August 2019· 3 minute read
Aviation Toxicology is an emerging branch of forensic toxicology aiming at the detection of minute quantities of toxic chemicals, drugs and medications that could have contributed to performance impairment of the aircrew. It is a highly specialized field, with only a handful of such facilities present worldwide.
Toxicology borrows knowledge from the fields of biology, chemistry, immunology, pathology and physiology. However, the most closely related field to toxicology is pharmacology. Aerospace toxicology could be considered closely related to aerospace medicine.
Aviation toxicology laboratories (i.e. the IFA-Indian Air Force Institute for Aerospace Medicine) are capable of detecting performance impairing substances such as drugs, alcohol and combustion gases, which may cause incapacitation of the aviator possibly resulting in aircraft accidents. The laboratory is equipped with modern equipments like liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LCMS), gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS) and high performance thin layer chromatography (HPTLC).
Modern jet airliner ventilator systems are designed for optimum efficiency, leaving them exposed to lapses in the recycling of clean air and the blocking of fumes from jet engine exhausts from entering the aircraft cabin areas.
„Aerotoxic fumes are most common in the cockpit, and the crew members are the most susceptible to the aerotoxic syndrome .“ (Aerospace Toxicology: An Overview – 2009 - Arvind K. Chaturvedi - pg. 24).
In multi-chemical exposures, interactive effects
among those chemicals play a contributory
role towards associated poisonings.
„This aspect is of particular importance, as aircraft travelers would potentially be exposed to chemicals, not a single chemical, from the black material. It is well established that the toxicity of individual substances differs from their mixture(s). Such a difference would be because of the interactive effects of chemicals present in the mixture(s). Thus, the overall toxicity would be the result of additive, potentiation, synergistic, and/or antagonistic type of interaction(s) among chemicals present in the mixtures in relation to the toxic effects exerted by the individual components of the chemical mixtures.“ (2009 - Arvind K. Chaturvedi)
For the UK/ CAA report 2 contaminated cabin air supply ducts were examined and analyzed for the presence of chemical constituents and degradation products of engine oils, hydraulic fluids, and lubricants. The ducts were removed from 2 aircraft, wherein the inner surface of the ducts was found to be coated wth black particulate material. Microscopic examination of this carbonaceous material determined that it was rich in varous elements, such as aluminum, silicon, sulfur, and phosphorous.
„In other words, the chemicals found in the carbonaceous material may not necessarily be individually toxic at the found concentrations, but if they are mixed together at those concentrations, the mixture might be highly toxic. Interaction of chemicals would also play a crucial role in exhibiting characteristic odour, which may not necessarily be consistent with the odour exhibited by an individual chemical itself. The issue of the interaction of chemicals in regard to the toxicity of mixtures has apparently not been fully addressed or emphasized in (the report *). Because of the complexity, the best approach to resolve this toxicological and aviation safety issue would be preventive -that is, to minimize oil leaks into bleed air and to monitor, clean, and/or replace air ducts. The toxicity of the oil additives that are used in aircraft engines should also be revisited.“ (2009 - Arvind K. Chaturvedi)
Aviation Toxicology is what we need to help our affected aircrews and passengers who are being exposed to polluted cabin air and it is being “UNFILTERED BREATHED IN!”
Author: Bearnairdine Beaumont
Research: Pedro Gonzales-Baum
AEROTOXIC TEAM (©August 2019)
- Aerospace Toxicology: An Overview - Arvind K. Chaturvedi http://dviaviation.com/files/38800966.pdf
- Note*: “in the report” is referring to the - CAA Civil Aviation Authority - Safety Regulation Group: cabin air quality. West Sussex, UK: Civil Aviation Authority (CAA); 2004 Feb. Report No: CAA Paper 2004/04.
- OneIndia Exclusive: IAF’s Aviation Toxicology Lab adds teeth to air crash by Dr Anantha Krishnan M https://tinyurl.com/y5f2kp7f