Project Title: Aircraft Air Quality Incidents
Anticipated Outcome: Assessment of the frequency, severity and consequences of cabin air quality incidents where either engine oil or hydraulic fluid is inadvertently introduced to cabin air through the bleed air system.
Project Summary: This project has been a collaborative effort with the Occupational Health Research Consortium in Aviation (OHRCA) . ACER tasks include: (1) development of a methodology for forensic sampling of used recirculation air filters from aircraft to characterize previous bleed air incident events; (2) development of a reliable air sampling system for identifying and quantifying potential contaminants associated with incidents, and (3) development and application of a health surveillance survey of active flight attendants that can be used to assess the health consquences of exposures related to incidents and other potentially adverse conditions related to commercial air travel.
Filters: It has been proposed that aircraft recirculation air filters can be an effective sampling mechanism for assessing air quality and air quality incidents since approximately 50% of the air flowing through the cabin passes through the filters. What is collected on the filters represents a global sampling of the suspended particulate matter in the cabin air during all the flights on which the filter was utilized. The current project is establishing a baseline of elemental and chemical materials found on typical filters as well as a simulated aircraft incidentin the laboratory. Such a simulation will enable verification of methodology and a test of the sensitivity of the analytical techniques. The goal is to detect trapped contaminants from various incidents and determine the type of incident that occurred.
Air Sampling: ACER researchers carried OHRCA-developed air samplers (so called "van Netten" samplers), on various flights and collected approximately 50 representative air samples. These samples were analyzed by laboratories at the University of California - Berkeley, Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
Health Surveys:4300+ flight attendant health surveys have been collected through a mailing campaign as well as "in-airport" data collection. Final analysis of the flight attendant health survey has been completed and a report (comprehensive literature review, discussion of methodologies, response rates, data analyses and recommendations) submitted to the FAA.
John D. Spengler, Harvard School of Public Health
Eileen McNeely, Harvard School of Public Health
Byron Jones, Kansas State University
Bill Nazaroff, University of California - Berkeley
Occupational Health Research Consortium in Aviation (ORCHA)
Steven Hecker, University of Oregon
Laurel Kincl, University of Oregon
Chris van Netten, University of British Columbia
Robert Harrison, University of California, San Francisco
Judith Murawski, Association of Flight Attendants
Chris Witkowski, Association of Flight Attendants
"Development and Validation of the Method for the Detection of Tricresyl Phosphates by GC/MS," FAA Technical Report, 2009