Bilateral Vestibular Dysfunction Associated With Chronic Exposure to Military Jet Fuel


We describe three patients diagnosed with bilateral vestibular dysfunction associated with the jet propellant type-eight (JP-8) fuel exposure. Chronic exposure to aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons, which are the main constituents of JP-8 military aircraft jet fuel, occurred over 3–5 years’ duration while working on or near the flight line.

Exposure to toxic hydrocarbons was substantiated by the presence of JP-8 metabolite n-hexane in the blood of one of the cases. The presenting symptoms were dizziness, headache, fatigue, and imbalance. Rotational chair testing confirmed bilateral vestibular dysfunction in all the three patients. Vestibular function improved over time once the exposure was removed.

Bilateral vestibular dysfunction has been associated with hydrocarbon exposure in humans, but only recently has emphasis been placed specifically on the detrimental effects of JP-8 jet fuel and its numerous hydrocarbon constituents. Data are limited on the mechanism of JP-8-induced vestibular dysfunction or ototoxicity.

Early recognition of JP-8 toxicity risk, cessation of exposure, and customized vestibular therapy offer the best chance for improved balance. Bilateral vestibular impairment is under-recognized in those chronically exposed to all forms of jet fuel.


Case 1: Military Flight Refueler

A37-year-old woman presented with several years of progressively worsening continuous dizziness, headache, and fatigue. The dizziness consisted of sensations of spinning, tilting, disequilibrium, and head fullness. She did not report tinnitus or hearing loss. She was employed as a military flight refueler and exposed to JP-8 vapors and exhaust while working full-time on and around a KC-135E tanker aircraft, a plane used for performing in-flight refueling missions. She worked in a large enclosed hangar that housed all but the tail section of the tanker aircraft. During inspection and maintenance of the aircraft, up to 9,750 gallons of fuel would be loaded. Jet fuel vapors were always present in the hangar due to venting, small leaks, and fuel residue. Fuel vapor concentrations were even greater when engine maintenance necessitated removal of fuel filters and fuel components, draining of fuel into buckets, and opening of fuel lines. She worked in engine maintenance with over 4 years of inhalational and dermal exposure to JP-4 and JP-8.

Her examination showed moderately impaired equilibrium to walk only three steps in tandem before taking a sidestep. Romberg testing revealed more sway during eye closure but no falling. Her medical and neurological examinations were normal. There was no spontaneous, gaze, or positional nystagmus. Qualitative head impulse test was not performed at that time.
Cases 2 and 3

The following two patients were employees in a small purchasing warehouse, located 75 feet south of the fight path, which was separated from the blast and heat emissions from jet aircraft engines by a metal-coated and chain-link fence. Neither air conditioning vents nor carpet had not been cleaned or replaced for over a decade. On inspection, the vents were found to be mal-functioning such that air was able to enter the building but unable to escape. Subsequent inspection by the U. S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) confirmed poor ventilation evidenced by carbon dioxide concentrations >1,500ppm (nor-mal <1,000 ppm according to the U.S. Department of Labor). Hydrocarbons discovered in the carpet via an independent analysis using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry included undecane (C11), dodecane (C12), tridecane (C13), tetradecane (C14), and toluene (C8)—all known JP-8 constituents (2). The chemicals present in the office carpet likely reflected poor indoor air quality. Vapor, aerosol, dermal, and eye absorption of JP-8 are presumed.

Case 2: Warehouse Employe 1

A 45-year-old female contracting officer for the National Guard reported several years of imbalance, headache, fatigue, eye and skin irritation, coughing, sinus congestion, recurrent urinary tract infections, chest tightness, irritability, depression, shortness of breath, palpitations, and numbness. She described her dizziness as an intermittent floating and a rightward tilting sensation with imbalance lasting minutes to hours without any particular pattern. She had a history of asthma and allergies including reaction to aspirin causing urticaria and airway obstruction. In 1998, she developed syncope and dizziness though no specific cause was found. She started working in the building in 1994 and worked there full-time for 5 years.

Case 3: Warehouse Employe 2

A 54-year-old female National Guard contract specialist presented with 2 years of intermittent dizziness, blurred vision, and occasional palpitations. Dizziness was experienced at least 3 days a week. She reported intermittent problems with erratic heart beats, cough, sneezing, headaches, fatigue, recurrent sinus infections, upper respiratory tract, and bladder infections. She worked in the purchasing warehouse full-time for 3 years. When away from the workplace her symptoms were improved. After moving with her colleagues into a new building, the frequency of dizziness was lessened.

Human Exposure and Absorption of Jet Fuel

Military duties such as fuel transportation, aircraft fueling and defueling, aircraft maintenance, cold aircraft engine starts, maintenance of equipment and machinery, use of tent heaters, and cleaning or degreasing with fuel may result in jet fuel exposure. Fuel handlers, mechanics, flight line personnel, especially crew chiefs, and even incidental workers remain at risk for developing illness secondary to chronic JP-8 fuel exposure in aerosol, vapor or liquid form. JP-8 is one of the most common occupational chemical exposures in the US military (1).

The Air Force has set recommended exposure limits for JP-8 at 63ppm (447mg/m3 as an 8-h time-weighted average) (22).In addition to exposure by JP-8 vapor inhalation, toxicity may also occur by absorption through the skin, which is proportional to the amount of skin exposed and the duration of exposure (23, 24). In addition to the standard operating procedure and safety guidelines, double gloving, immediate onsite laundering of contaminated/soiled jumpsuits, regular washing of safety goggles and masks, reduced foam handling time, smoking cessation, adequate cross ventilation, and frequent shift breaks may reduce the overall risk of JP-8 induced illness

At this time, OSHA has not determined a legal limit for jet fuels in workroom air. The U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health set a recommended limit of 100mg/m3 for kerosene in air averaged over a 10-h work day. Multi-organ toxicity has been documented from JP-8 exposure in animal experiments over the past 15 years. More recently, toxicology researchers are investigating the adverse tissue effects of JP-8 jet fuel in concentrations well below permissible exposure limits.

Ultimately, the new data may help us to better understand the emerging genetic, metabolic and inflammatory mechanisms underpinning JP-8 cellular toxicity—including auditory and vestibular toxicity—and lead to a reassessment of the safe JP-8 exposure limits (25, 26).


Bilateral vestibular dysfunction in these three patients with prolonged vapor and dermal JP-8 fuel exposure should raise awareness in people with occupations that expose them to jet fuels, liquid hydrocarbons, or organic solvents. Dizziness and mild imbalance may be the main initial symptoms. Early recognition and limiting further exposure as well as treatment with vestibular therapy (32) may improve their function and quality of life

Bilateral Vestibular Dysfunction… (PDF Download Available)
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Difference between Jet A1 & JP-8

Jet fuel, aviation turbine fuel (ATF), or avtur, is a type of aviation fuel designed for use in aircraft powered by gas-turbine engines. It is colorless to straw-colored in appearance. The most commonly used fuels for commercial aviation are Jet A and Jet A-1, which are produced to a standardized international specification. The only other jet fuel commonly used in civilian turbine-engine powered aviation is Jet B, which is used for its enhanced cold-weather performance.

Jet fuel is a mixture of a large number of different hydrocarbons. The range of their sizes (molecular weights or carbon numbers) is defined by the requirements for the product, such as the freezing or smoke point. Kerosene-type jet fuel (including Jet A and Jet A-1) has a carbon number distribution between about 8 and 16 (carbon atoms per molecule); wide-cut or naphtha-type jet fuel (including Jet B), between about 5 and 15.[1]


The DEF STAN 91-91 (UK) and ASTM D1655 (international) specifications allow for certain additives to be added to jet fuel, including:[13][14]

  • Antioxidants to prevent gumming, usually based on alkylated phenols, e.g., AO-30, AO-31, or AO-37; 
  • Antistatic agents, to dissipate static electricity and prevent sparking; Stadis 450, with dinonylnaphthylsulfonic acid (DINNSA) as a component, is an example
  • Corrosion inhibitors, e.g., DCI-4A used for civilian and military fuels, and DCI-6A used for military fuels;
  • Fuel system icing inhibitor (FSII) agents, e.g., Di-EGME; FSII is often mixed at the point-of-sale so that users with heated fuel lines do not have to pay the extra expense.
  • Biocides are to remediate microbial (i.e., bacterial and fungal) growth present in aircraft fuel systems. Currently, two biocides are approved for use by most aircraft and turbine engine original equipment manufacturers (OEMs); Kathon FP1.5 Microbiocide and Biobor JF.[15]
  • Metal deactivator can be added to remediate the deleterious effects of trace metals on the thermal stability of the fuel. The one allowable additive is N,N’-disalicylidene 1,2-propanediamine.

As the aviation industry’s jet kerosene demands have increased to more than 5% of all refined products derived from crude, it has been necessary for the refiner to optimize the yield of jet kerosene, a high value product, by varying process techniques. New processes have allowed flexibility in the choice of crudes, the use of coal tar sands as a source of molecules and the manufacture of synthetic blend stocks. Due to the number and severity of the processes used, it is often necessary and sometimes mandatory to use additives. These additives may, for example, prevent the formation of harmful chemical species or improve a property of a fuel to prevent further engine wear.

JP-8, or JP8 (for “Jet Propellant 8”) is a jet fuel, specified and used widely by the US military. It is specified by MIL-DTL-83133 and British Defence Standard 91-87, and similar to commercial aviation’s Jet A-1, but with the addition of corrosion inhibitor and anti-icing additives.

A kerosene-based fuel, JP-8 is projected to remain in use at least until 2025. It was first introduced at NATO bases in 1978. Its NATO code is F-34.

Ototoxicity – Ototoxicants in the environment and workplace

Ototoxicity is the property of being toxic to the ear (oto-), specifically the cochlea or auditory nerve and sometimes the vestibular system, for example, as a side effect of a drug.

The effects of ototoxicity can be reversible and temporary, or irreversible and permanent. It has been recognized since the 19th century.[1] There are many well-known ototoxic drugs used in clinical situations, and they are prescribed, despite the risk of hearing disorders, to very serious health conditions.[2]

Ototoxic drugs include antibiotics such as gentamicin, loop diuretics such as furosemide and platinum-based chemotherapy agents such as cisplatin. A number of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) have also been shown to be ototoxic.[3][citation needed]

This can result in sensorineural hearing loss, dysequilibrium, or both. Some environmental and occupational chemicals have also been shown to affect the auditory system and interact with noise.[4]

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of ototoxicity include partial or profound hearing loss, vertigo, and tinnitus.[5]

The cochlea is primarily a hearing structure situated in the inner ear. It is the snail-shaped shell containing several nerve endings that makes hearing possible.[6] Ototoxicity typically results when the inner ear is poisoned by medication that damages the cochlea, vestibule, semi-circular canals, or the auditory/ vestibulocochlear nerve. The damaged structure then produces the symptoms the patient presents with. Ototoxicity in the cochlea may cause hearing loss of the high-frequency pitch ranges or complete deafness, or losses at points between.[7] It may present with bilaterally symmetrical symptoms, or asymmetrically, with one ear developing the condition after the other or not at all.[7] The time frames for progress of the disease vary greatly and symptoms of hearing loss may be temporary or permanent.[6]

The vestibule and semi-circular canal are inner-ear components that comprise the vestibular system. Together they detect all directions of head movement. Two types of otolith organs are housed in the vestibule: the saccule, which points vertically and detects vertical acceleration, and the utricle, which points horizontally and detects horizontal acceleration. The otolith organs together sense the head’s position with respect to gravity when the body is static; then the head’s movement when it tilts; and pitch changes during any linear motion of the head. The saccule and utricle detect different motions, which information the brain receives and integrates to determine where the head is and how and where it is moving.

The semi-circular canals are three bony structures filled with fluid. As with the vestibule, the primary purpose of the canals is to detect movement. Each canal is oriented at right angles to the others, enabling detection of movement in any plane. The posterior canal detects rolling motion, or motion about the X axis; the anterior canal detects pitch, or motion about the Y axis; the horizontal canal detects yaw motion, or motion about the Z axis. When a medication is toxic in the vestibule or the semi-circular canals, the patient senses loss of balance or orientation rather than losses in hearing. Symptoms in these organs present as vertigo, difficulties walking in low light and darkness, disequilibrium, oscillopsia among others.[7] Each of these problems is related to balance and the mind is confused with the direction of motion or lack of motion. Both the vestibule and semi-circular canals transmit information to the brain about movement; when these are poisoned, they are unable to function properly which results in miscommunication with the brain.

When the vestibule and/or semi-circular canals are affected by ototoxicity, the eye can also be affected. Nystagmus and oscillopsia are two conditions that overlap the vestibular and ocular systems. These symptoms cause the patient to have difficulties with seeing and processing images. The body subconsciously tries to compensate for the imbalance signals being sent to the brain by trying to obtain visual cues to support the information it is receiving. This results in that dizziness and “woozy” feeling patients use to describe conditions such as oscillopsia and vertigo.[7]

Cranial nerve VIII, is the least affected component of the ear when ototoxicity arises, but if the nerve is affected, the damage is most often permanent. Symptoms present similar to those resulting from vestibular and cochlear damage, including tinnitus, ringing of the ears, difficulty walking, deafness, and balance and orientation issues.

Ototoxicants in the environment and workplace

Ototoxic effects are also seen with quinine, pesticides, solvents, asphyxiants (such as carbon monoxide) and heavy metals such as mercury and lead.[4][5][36] When combining multiple ototoxicants, the risk of hearing loss becomes greater.[37] As these exposures are common, this hearing impairment can affects many occupations and industries.[38]

Ototoxic chemicals in the environment (from contaminated air or water) or in the workplace interact with mechanical stresses on the hair cells of the cochlea in different ways. For organic solvents such as toluene, styrene or xylene, the combined exposure with noise increases the risk of occupational hearing loss in a synergistic manner.[4][39] The risk is greatest when the co-exposure is with impulse noise.[40][41] Carbon monoxide has been shown to increase the severity of the hearing loss from noise.[39] Given the potential for enhanced risk of hearing loss, exposures and contact with products such as paint thinners, degreasers, white spirits, exhaust, should be kept to a minimum. Noise exposures should be kept below 85 decibels, and the chemical exposures should be below the recommended exposure limits given by regulatory agencies.

Drug exposures mixed with noise potentially lead to increased risk of ototoxic hearing loss. Noise exposure combined with the chemotherapeutic cisplatin puts individuals at increased risk of ototoxic hearing loss.[33] Noise at 85 dB SPL or above added to the amount of hair cell death in the high frequency region of the cochlea In chinchillas.[42]

The hearing loss caused by chemicals can be very similar to a hearing loss caused by excessive noise. A 2018 informational bulletin by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) introduces the issue, provides examples of ototoxic chemicals, lists the industries and occupations at risk and provides prevention information.[43]


No specific treatment may be available, but withdrawal of the ototoxic drug may be warranted when the consequences of doing so are less severe than those of the ototoxicity.[5] Co-administration of anti-oxidants may limit the ototoxic effects.[33]

Ototoxic monitoring during exposure is recommended by the American Academy of Audiology to allow for proper detection and possible prevention or rehabilitation of the hearing loss through a cochlear implant or hearing aid. Monitoring can be completed through performing otoacoustic emissions testing or high frequency audiometry. Successful monitoring includes a baseline test before, or soon after, exposure to the ototoxicant. Follow-up testing is completed in increments after the first exposure, throughout the cessation of treatment. Shifts in hearing status are monitored and relayed to the prescribing physician to make treatment decisions.[44]

It is difficult to distinguish between nerve damage and structural damage due to similarity of the symptoms. Diagnosis of ototoxicity typically results from ruling out all other possible sources of hearing loss and is often the catchall explanation for the symptoms. Treatment options vary depending on the patient and the diagnosis. Some patients experience only temporary symptoms that do not require drastic treatment while others can be treated with medication. Physical therapy may prove useful for regaining balance and walking abilities. Cochlear implants are sometimes an option to restore hearing. Such treatments are typically taken to comfort the patient, not to cure the disease or damage caused by ototoxicity. There is no cure or restoration capability if the damage becomes permanent,[45][46] although cochlear nerve terminal regeneration has been observed in chickens,[47] which suggests that there may be a way to accomplish this in humans.

See full Wikipedia article below

Article from US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

Bilateral Vestibular Dysfunction Associated With Chronic Exposure to Military Jet Propellant Type-Eight Jet Fuel

Dichloromethane – Guide to Hazardous Air Pollutants used by the Irish Air Corps

Methylene Chloride (Dichloromethane)

Above is a photgraph taken in Irish Air Corps in 2015 of a drum of Dichloromethane. This was in use by the spray paint shop in Baldonnel for stripping paint but was handed out to staff from any other unit that wanted some in containers like soft drinks bottles or milk cartons.

Note : The European Union had banned this chemical 3 years earlier in 2015. The current Health & Safety officer in Baldonnel didn’t know Dichlorometheane had been banned and in fact didn’t even know Dichlorometheane was actually in use as no chemical register was in existance at the time despite being mandatory since 1989.

This was prior to the Irish Air Corps becoming LEADERS in workplace chemical Healh & Safety as “self-declared” recently to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence.

CAS  75-09-2

Hazard Summary

Methylene chloride is predominantly used as a solvent. The acute (short-term) effects of methylene chloride inhalation in humans consist mainly of nervous system effects including decreased visual, auditory, and motor functions, but these effects are reversible once exposure ceases.

The effects of chronic (long-term) exposure to methylene chloride suggest that the central nervous system (CNS) is a potential target in humans and animals.

Human data are inconclusive regarding methylene chloride and cancer. Animal studies have shown increases in liver and lung cancer and benign mammary gland tumors following the inhalation of methylene chloride.

Please Note: The main sources of information for this fact sheet are the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's (ATSDR's) Toxicological Profile for Methylene Chloride and EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), which contains information on oral chronic toxicity and the RfD, and the carcinogenic effects of methylene chloride including the unit cancer risk for inhalation exposure


  • Methylene chloride is predominantly used as a solvent in paint strippers and removers; as a process solvent in the manufacture of drugs, pharmaceuticals, and film coatings; as a metal cleaning and finishing solvent in electronics manufacturing; and as an agent in urethane foam blowing. (1)
  • Methylene chloride is also used as a propellant in aerosols for products such as paints, automotive products, and insect sprays. (1)
  • It is used as an extraction solvent for spice oleoresins, hops, and for the removal of caffeine from coffee. However, due to concern over residual solvent, most decaffeinators no longer use methylene chloride. (1)
  • Methylene chloride is also approved for use as a postharvest fumigant for grains and strawberries and as a degreening agent for citrus fruit. (1)

Sources and Potential Exposure

  • The principal route of human exposure to methylene chloride is inhalation of ambient air. (1)
  • Occupational and consumer exposure to methylene chloride in indoor air may be much higher, especially from spray painting or other aerosol uses. People who work in these places can breathe in the chemical or it may come in contact with the skin. (1)
  • Methylene chloride has been detected in both surface water and groundwater samples taken at hazardous waste sites and in drinking water at very low concentrations. (1)

Assessing Personal Exposure

  • Several tests exist for determining exposure to methylene chloride. These tests include measurement of methylene chloride in the breath, blood, and urine. It is noted that smoking and exposure to other chemicals may affect the results of these tests. (1)

Health Hazard Information

Acute Effects:

  • Case studies of methylene chloride poisoning during paint stripping operations have demonstrated that inhalation exposure to extremely high levels can be fatal to humans. (1,2)
  • Acute inhalation exposure to high levels of methylene chloride in humans has resulted in effects on the central nervous system (CNS) including decreased visual, auditory, and psychomotor functions, but these effects are reversible once exposure ceases. Methylene chloride also irritates the nose and throat at high concentrations. (1,2)
  • Tests involving acute exposure of animals have shown methylene chloride to have moderate acute toxicity from oral and inhalation exposure. (3)

Chronic Effects (Noncancer):

  • The major effects from chronic inhalation exposure to methylene chloride in humans are effects on the CNS, such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, and memory loss. (1,2)
  • Animal studies indicate that the inhalation of methylene chloride causes effects on the liver, kidney, CNS, and cardiovascular system. (1,2)
  • EPA has calculated a provisional Reference Concentration (RfC) of 3 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3) based on liver effects in rats. The RfC is an estimate (with uncertainty spanning perhaps an order of
    magnitude) of a continuous inhalation exposure to the human population (including sensitive subgroups) that is likely to be without appreciable risk of deleterious noncancer effects during a lifetime. It is not a direct estimator of risk but rather a reference point to gauge the potential effects. At exposures increasingly greater than the RfC, the potential for adverse health effects increases. Lifetime exposure above the RfC does not imply that an adverse health effect would necessarily occur. (5)
  • The Reference Dose (RfD) for methylene chloride is 0.06 milligrams per kilogram body weight per day (mg/kg/d) based on liver toxicity in rats. (4)
  • EPA has medium confidence in the RfD based on: high confidence in the study on which the RfD is based because a large number of animals of both sexes were tested in four dose groups, with a large number of controls, many effects were monitored, and a dose-related increase in severity was observed; and medium to low confidence in the database because only a few studies support the no-observed-adverse-effect level (NOAEL). (4)

Reproductive/Developmental Effects:

  • No studies were located regarding developmental or reproductive effects in humans from inhalation or oral exposure. (1,2)
  • Animal studies have demonstrated that methylene chloride crosses the placental barrier, and minor skeletal variations and lowered fetal body weights have been noted. (1,2)

Cancer Risk:

  • Several studies did not report a statistically significant increase in deaths from cancer among workers exposed to methylene chloride. (1,2)
  • Animal studies have shown an increase in liver and lung cancer and benign mammary gland tumors following inhalation exposure to methylene chloride. (1,2,4)
  • EPA considers methylene chloride to be a probable human carcinogen and has ranked it in EPA’s Group B2.(4)
  • EPA uses mathematical models, based on animal studies, to estimate the probability of a person developing cancer from breathing air containing a specified concentration of a chemical. EPA calculated an inhalation unit risk estimate of 4.7 × 10-7 (µg/m3)-1. EPA estimates that, if an individual were to continuously breathe air containing methylene chloride at an average of 2.0 µg/m3 (0.002 mg/m3) over his or her entire lifetime, that person would theoretically have no more than a one-in-a-million increased chance of developing cancer as a direct result of breathing air containing this chemical. Similarly, EPA estimates that breathing air containing 20 µg/m3 (0.02 mg/m3 ) would result in not greater than a one-in-a-hundred
    breathing air containing 20 µg/m3 (0.02 mg/m3) would result in not greater than a one-in-a-hundred thousand increased chance of developing cancer, and air containing 200 µg/m3(0.2 mg/m3) would result in not greater than a one-in-ten thousand increased chance of developing cancer. For a detailed discussionof confidence in the potency estimates, please see IRIS. (4)
  • Note the MAX mathamatical/theoretical EPA level above of 200 µg/m3(0.2 mg/m3) equates to 0.05758ppm (parts per million). Dichloromethane was measured in ERF on Wednesday 12th & Thursday 13th July, 1995 at 175ppm. This equates to 607,880 µg/m3(607.88 mg/m3). So the level the EPA use to calculate a one-in-a hundred thousand increased chance of developing cancer were exceeded by the Irish Air Corps by a factor of 3,039. So statistically if a person inhalled the levels that many Irish Air Corps were exposed to 24/7 for a lifetime they would have a 1 in 33 chance of developing cancer as a result.
  • EPA calculated an oral cancer slope factor of 7.5 x 10-3 (mg/kg/d)-1. (4)

Physical Properties

  • A common synonym for methylene chloride is dichloromethane. (1,4)
    Methylene chloride is a colorless liquid with a sweetish odor. (1,6)
    The chemical formula for methylene chloride is CH2Cl2, and the molecular weight is 84.93 g/mol. (1)
  • The vapor pressure for methylene chloride is 349 mm Hg at 20 °C, and it has an octanol/water coefficient (log Kow) of 1.30. (1)
  • Methylene chloride has an odor threshold of 250 parts per million (ppm). (7)
  • Methylene chloride is slightly soluble in water and is nonflammable. (1,6)

Read the full EPA PDF on the above Hazardous Air Pollutant with references below.


Relavance to personnel who served in the Air Corps

  1. Dichloromethane was a  component of Ardrox 666 used in ERF.
  2. Dichloromethane was a component of the Paint Remover 82510 used by the Spray Paint Shop but also by technicians in No3 Sp Wing, BFTS & possibly elsewhere.

There are possibly more chemicals used by the Air Corps that contain Dichloromethane. If you know of some let us know in the comments section. We are not statisticians and our interpretation of the cancer statistics are open to correction.

Dáil Éireann – Oral Question 7 – 10th May 2018 – Irish Air Corps Survivors

Mr. Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South-Central )

Question No. 7

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the Chemical Exposure Report 1994-2005 will be released in order to provide former members of the Air Corps who are now chronically ill with information relating to the level of exposure they suffered in view of his recent call for candour and transparency in cases regarding the health of persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter

This relates to a matter that has been ongoing for a while. Given the current controversy around the checks for cervical cancer, there is a need for transparency in publishing reports that will help people suffering health consequences so they can manage future health needs.

Sinn Féin TD: Meet Air Corp health claims with “CANDOUR”

Seriously ill former members of the Air Corps are facing potentially “catastrophic” consequences for their health as a result of the State’s efforts to fight them ‘tooth and nail’ over the release of information that could aid their treatment, the Dáil heard yesterday.

Sinn Féin defence spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh yesterday said the CervicalCheck scandal has demonstrated a need for the State to disclose the medically sensitive information it has to affected members of the public — including the former Air Corps staff.

Mr Ó Snodaigh asked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar if the Government would release a report on working conditions in the Air Corps headquarters in Casement Aerodrome that it has withheld.

Mr Ó Snodaigh also highlighted one case in which the State Claims Agency is “fighting tooth and nail” against a High Court discovery order demanding the release of a list of chemicals used in the Air Corps hangars. “This is potentially catastrophic for some of those making claims and also for some who are not making claims,” said Mr Ó Snodaigh.

Read full article on Irish Examiner website below…

Dáil Éireann Written Answers 10/05/18 – State Claims Agency – Irish Air Corps

Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)


Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the Chemical Exposure Report 1994-2005 will be released in order to provide former members of the Air Corps who are now chronically ill with information relating to the level of exposure they suffered in view of his recent call for candour and transparency in cases regarding the health of persons; and if he will make a statement on the

This relates to a matter that has been ongoing for a while. Given the current controversy around the checks for cervical cancer, there is a need for transparency in publishing reports that will help people suffering health consequences so they can manage future health needs.

Paul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)

The Deputy will be aware that the State Claims Agency is currently managing seven claims taken against the Minister for Defence for personal injuries alleging exposure to chemical and toxic substance while working in the Air Corps in the period 1991 to 2006. The management of such claims lodged against the Minister for Defence is delegated to the State Claims Agency. As I outlined to the Deputy in my replies to his parliamentary questions on 26 September 2017 and 12 December 2017, the report referenced was undertaken in the context of legal proceedings. As the report was requested by and provided to the State Claims Agency in the context of a claim, it is legally and professionally privileged. Therefore, it would not be appropriate to release it.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)

The Minister of State has previously stated, and he has done so now again, that it is not appropriate to publish the report. This is even when an independent reviewer was looking at the whistleblower’s claims. The Minister of State did not even supply him with the report in question, the Chemical Exposure Report 1994-2005. This is potentially catastrophic for some of those making claims and also for some who are not making claims. Not everybody exposed to chemicals in that period is making a claim against the State but they are seeking information on what they were exposed to and what damage it could do to their health.

The State Claims Agency, which is involved with the current scandal in the media, has fought these men tooth and nail. It has fought to the level of the High Court the production of a list of chemicals used in Baldonnel in that period. That list alone could save lives. Given the current debacle with cervical smear tests, I ask the Minister of State to think again about the withholding of information that can affect people’s lives and future health. This is wrong and it should be stopped.

Paul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)

The Deputy is trying to link two very distinct matters. The allegations referred to by the Deputy are historic and this is further complicated as causation has not been established as of yet. I have been very proactive in this matter. When the protected disclosures were submitted to the Department of Defence – there were two in 2015 and one in 2016 – I was briefed on the matter in June 2016. I set up an independent inquiry and met some of the people who made the disclosures. I received the report and I got the views of the people who made the protected disclosures. I sent the report for legal advice and I received that in the past number of days. Before making any further decision on the course of action, a number of legal issues must be finalised. I expect that following the report I will act as soon as possible.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)

We visited the Baldonnel aerodrome recently and I can see the huge progress in comparison with photographs I have seen of workshops in the past. Why is the default position of the State always to close ranks and withhold information? The longer one withholds information, the worse some of the health complications could get. Whether they are related to exposure is up to medics, but they cannot find this out if the information is not there and they cannot do the required checks for the chemicals to which I have been told that people have been exposed. Major dangers and cancers can result from those and I appeal to the Minister of State to ask the State Claims Agency to look properly and more openly at this and not to fight it tooth and nail. There is an urgency involved given that we are talking about the lives of men and women being at risk.

Paul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)

The health and well-being of any member of the Defence Forces is a priority of mine and of military management. I am glad the Deputy recognises the progress in the Air Corps at Baldonnel. It is one of the reasons I instructed the General Officer Commanding, Sean Clancy, to host a visit for Members of the Oireachtas committee so they could see for themselves the progress out there.

I am also reassured current practices have been subject to Health and Safety Authority oversight. There has been considerable progress and subject to completion of an improved plan, it will close its investigation. I am considering the findings of the investigation report that I got and I will make a decision on this. I understand where the Deputy is coming from but I have a duty as well. The Deputy is trying to link two very distinct and different matters in cervical cancer and the issue we are discussing now.


  • The Taoiseach, the Minister for Defence, the Irish Air Corps and the State Claims Agency are all in possession of lists of chemicals that personnel were exposed transdermally & via inhalation without protection (PPE) and via ingestion due to a lack of PPE, adequate washing facilities or chemical handling training.
  • In many cases personnel were exposed via inhalation without their knowledge because their working environment was contaminated.
  • Knowing the exposure information can help save lives as it can help doctors provide correct diagnosis and appropriate targeted healthcare.
  • The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Minister Paul Kehoe, the State Claims Agency and the Irish Air Corps would sooner let serving & former personnel die without correct treatment rather than tell them exactly what the were exposed to.


Dáil Éireann Written Answers 05/12/17 – State Claims Agency

Seán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)


Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance if personnel employed by the State Claims Agency branch of the National Treasury Management Agency are eligible for bonus payments; and if so, the way in which these bonuses are structured and attained. [51615/17]

Paschal Donohoe (Dublin Central, Fine Gael)

The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) has informed me that it operates a discretionary performance-related payments scheme for eligible employees, which includes staff assigned to the State Claims Agency.

The scheme rewards exceptional performance having regard to the employee’s own performance, the performance of the employee’s area of responsibility and the overall performance of the NTMA. Performance-related payments are made in accordance with parameters approved by the Agency’s non-executive Remuneration Committee.

The overall amount of performance related payments made in respect of any year is also subject to the approval of the Remuneration Committee.


Did “improvements” to Air Corps Health & Safety Risk Management Profile influence  bonus payments to State Claims Agency staff