According to the World Health Organization (WHO), seven million people worldwide die as a consequence of air pollution every year. For around 20 years, studies have shown that air-borne particulate matter negatively affects human health. Now, in addition to already investigated particle sources like emissions from heating systems, industry and road traffic, aircraft turbine engine particle emissions have also become more important.
In a unique, innovative experiment, researchers have investigated the effect of exhaust particles from aircraft turbine engines on human lung cells.
The cells reacted most strongly to particles emitted during ground idling.
It was also shown that the cytotoxic effect is only to some extent comparable to that of particles from gasoline and diesel engines.The primary solid particles, i.e. those emitted directly from the source, have the strongest effect on people in its immediate vicinity.
Now a multidisciplinary team, led by lung researcher Marianne Geiser of the Institute of Anatomy at the University of Bern, together with colleagues from Empa Dübendorf and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW), has shown that primary soot particles from kerosene combustion in aircraft turbine engines also cause direct damage to lung cells and can trigger an inflammatory reaction if the solid particles are inhaled in the direct vicinity of the engine.
The researchers demonstrated for the first time that the damaging effects also depend on the operating conditions of the turbine engine, the composition of the fuel, and the structure of the generated particles.
Beechcraft 200 Super King Air No 240 showing soiling of the engine panels with soot from exhaust gasses.
Extremely small particles in the nanoscale range
Particles emitted from aircraft turbine engines are generally ultrafine, i.e. smaller than 100 nm. By way of comparison, a human hair has a diameter of about 80,000 nm. When inhaled, these nanoparticles — like those from other combustion sources -efficiently deposit in the airways. In healthy people, the well-developed defense mechanisms in the lungs normally take care of rendering the deposited particles ineffective and removing them from the lungs as quickly as possible.
However, if the inhaled particles manage to overcome these defense mechanisms, due to their structure or physico-chemical properties, there is a danger for irreparable damage to the lung tissue. This process, already known to researchers from earlier experiments with particle emissions from gasoline and diesel engines, has now also been observed for particle emissions from aircraft engines.
Toxicity depends on the operating conditions of the turbines and the type of fuel
Evidence of increased cell membrane damage and oxidative stress in the cell cultures was identified. Oxidative stress accelerates ageing of cells and can be a trigger for cancer or immune system diseases.
Overall, according to the researchers, it has been demonstrated that the cell-damaging effect caused by exposure to particles generated by the combustion of gasoline, diesel and kerosene fuel are comparable for similar doses and exposure times.
Additionally, a similar pattern was found in the secretion of inflammatory cytokines after exposure to gasoline and kerosene fuel particles.
Aerosols: distance from the source is crucial
Aerosols are the finest solid or fluid substance suspended in the air. In combustion processes, the composition of ultrafine particles is highly variable. In addition, aerosols are unstable, and they are modified after their formation. Primary ultrafine solid particles have a high diffusion velocity. As a result, at high concentrations such particles either stick together or attach to other particles. Therefore, the effect of primary ultrafine particles depends on the distance from the source, implying that there is a difference depending on whether a person is close to the source (such as people at the roadside ) or at a greater distance (aircraft taxiing or taking off). Further research is needed to clarify how strong the impact would be at a greater distance from an aircraft engine
The layout of the Irish Air Corps base at Casement Aerodrome ensures that aircraft exhaust gasses are blown over populated sections of the airbase when winds are from the south, south east or south west. This includes hangars, offices, workshops and living in accommodation such as the apprentice hostel and married quarters. Calm weather also creates conditions where exhaust gasses linger in higher concentrations.
This results in all Irish Air Corps personnel (commissioned, enlisted, civilian & family) being exposed to emissions from idling aircraft engines, emissions that are known to cause harm.
In the mid 1990s a study of air pollution adjacent to the ramp area at Baldonnel was commissioned. This report relating to this study has gone missing.
Anecdotal evidence suggests increased prevalence of occupational asthma & adult onset asthma amongst serving & former personnel who served in Baldonnel or Gormanston aerodromes.
Older gas turbine engines produce dirtier exhaust gasses.
Idling gas turbine engines produce dirtier exhaust gasses.
Below are some of the gas turbine powered Air Corps aircraft that were powered by elderly engine designs.
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) personnel who worked with widely used jet fuel suffered damage to their body’s cells with unknown long-term consequences, according to groundbreaking research released after a Freedom of Information laws request.
Defence’s senior physician in occupational and environmental medicine, Dr Ian Gardner, described the findings as a “part of the puzzle” and a hypothesis-making study”, and pointed it out that it was one of a series of pieces of research currently underway.
“What it shows is there is evidence of small but persistent cellular damage,” Dr Gardner told the ABC. He said it was not yet clear what the long-term effects of that damage might be.
“For the future though there are a lot of other aircraft maintenance workers who have done similar jobs on other aircraft types, and now Defence and DVA and Air Force are considering what additional work should be done in relation to those other people who are not actually on the F-111 programs but have done essentially similar work,” Dr Gardner said.
The Jet Fuel Syndrome Study also shows that the fuel is more toxic to the body’s cells than the two solvents initially blamed for the sickness suffered by the deseal/reseal workers, and that the toxicity is even higher when those solvents and the fuel were mixed.
The results of the research project, headed by Professor Francis Bowling of Brisbane’s Mater Hospital, were handed to Defence last September, and have been the subject of significant scrutiny and review due to the potential significance of the findings.
They will give heart to former and serving Defence personnel who believe they have been left out in the cold by Defence after developing serious health complaints while working with fuel and other substances.
Junior Minister with responsibility for Defence said in the Dáil that he was assured by the Irish Air Corps that the RAAF F1-11 deseal/reseal exposure tragedy is completely different to any exposures at the Irish Air Corps.
Was the minister suggesting that Irish Air Corps gas turbine engines don’t run on jet fuel?
As the world frantically battles coronavirus, a leading Dutch neurologist warns of the next global pandemic — and this one, he says, is almost entirely of our own making.
Bastiaan Bloem, MD, a neurologist and professor at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, says that over the next 20 years, the number of people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) will likely double — from the present 6.5 million to more than 13 million.
The main cause of this exponential jump: widespread exposure to herbicides, solvents, and other toxic chemicals used in agriculture and manufacturing.
“A pandemic, as everybody is now painfully aware, is a disease happening worldwide, to which no one is immune. PD fulfills all those criteria,” Bloem told Parkinson’s News Today in a phone interview from the Netherlands.
“Parkinson’s is now the fastest-growing neurological condition on the planet.”
Bloem, 53, points to the tight link between exposure to herbicides such as paraquat — a weed killer — and the risk of developing Parkinson’s.
“These chemicals were introduced worldwide after World War II, and many are still used today on our fields,” he said. “For this reason, farmers are at a markedly increased risk of developing Parkinson’s. If you feed a mouse paraquat — which is banned in China but not the U.S. — it will kill the dopamine-producing cells in the brain. These chemicals are tremendously toxic to the brain and have even been detected in milk, in supermarkets.”
Paraquat isn’t the only such chemical posing this risk. Trichloroethylene, a solvent used to clean metals and remove stains, has exactly the same effect on human brains. Yet it’s still widely used and is detectable in high concentrations in groundwater, he said.
“Parkinson’s is exploding in numbers, it’s a horribly debilitating disease, and it’s a costly disease that should matter to people and governments. We’re doing this to ourselves,” Bloem said. “But we can do something about it. We need to get rid of these toxic pesticides and move toward organic food. And we should take measures to protect people who work in these toxic environments.”
Trichloroethylene was used in Baldonnel for decades with ERF in particular receiving it in 220 litre drums. From ERF it was handed out without any precautions or training to anyone who asked for it. It was handed out in milk cartons, plastic coke bottles etc.
Trichloroethylene was used by all hangars & workshops in an ad-hoc basis usually with Trichloroethylene begged from ERF although some units did order it themselves. Personnel in the Air Corps museum also used Trike to help degrease parts & aircraft being restored for the museum.
Trichloroethylene was also used by both apprentices, tech & line personnel to carry out cleaning tasks in the Air Corps Training Depot while on training courses or during “war week”.
In at least 2 separate instances some floors in ACTD were completely destroyed by the use of Trichloroethylene being left overnight to clean them. In one incident Trichloroethylene dissolved through a traditional lino floor as far as the backing twine and in another incident few years later a tiled floor was destroyed after the tiles shriveled up & shrunk after Trichloroethylene was left overnight to clean a floor.
Trichloroethylene was also used by teenage apprentices to clean black marks off floors in the Apprentice Hostel and the Apprentice School.
At no point was anyone ever given training in the use of Trichloroethylene nor issued with appropriate PPE whilst working with the chemical.
A number of Irish Air Corps personnel have been diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease
Concerns related to adverse health effects experienced by aircrew exposed to aircraft contaminated air have been ongoing for over 6 decades.
Unfiltered breathing air is supplied to the cabin via the engine compressor. The likelihood that oil leaking over the engine oil seals may enter the cabin air supply has prompted continuing debate about the hazards associated with exposure to neurotoxic substances and to the thermally degraded or pyrolysed mixture.
In this study, we undertook an in-depth investigation of aircrew involved in suspected aircraft contaminated air events.
Two studies were conducted to review the circumstances and symptoms of a cohort of aircrew working in the pressurized air environment of aircraft. A table of effects was then used for categorizing symptoms and reviewing other sources of data related to aircraft fluids and selected other conditions.
Both acute and chronic exposures to neurotoxic and a wide range of thermally degraded substances were confirmed, along with a clear pattern of acute and chronic adverse effects. The latter were supported by medical findings and diagnoses, notably involving the neurological, neurobehavioural and respiratory systems.
A clear cause and effect relationship has been identified linking the symptoms, diagnoses and findings to the occupational environment. Recognition of this new occupational disorder and a clear medical investigation protocol are urgently needed.
Download scientific research paper from the World Health Organisation…
We are curently updating our chemical listings. There were and are a very large number of chemical substances in use in the Irish Air Corps and amost all of these substances have ingredient chemicals.
For example, the corrosion inhibiter Mastinox 6856k, which many personnel used without any PPE, contains the below constituent chemicals. Among the ingredients include carcinogens, mutagens, immune sensitisers, irritants and just plain old toxic chemicals.
By following the links below you will arrive at tables showing the individual chemical names that we have extracted from some MSDS. Due to a recent Supreme Court ruling the list of chemicals is expected to grow. It is our intention to eventually create a database that links the MSDS to the individual constituents.
Bear the following in mind when using the table.
You can limit the number of entries you want to see
You can search for names such as “Tolouene” or “chromate”
You can sort by name, carcinogen, mutagen, reprotoxic etc.
Clicking on the name will take you to the Wikipedia page for that chemical
Clicking on the ECHA link for a chemical will take you to the European Chemicals Agency where you can look at the hazards in detail and view CAS number etc.
The tables do SCROLL sideways, the scroll bar is at the bottom of each table.
Consider the trappings of modern life: Calvin Klein Eternity, gasoline, Gore-Tex, hairspray, paint, particle board, polyurethane iPod cases.
Now imagine that you’re allergic to virtually all of them.
Environmentalists usually think about chemical toxicity as either a dramatic local crisis (Bhopal, Love Canal) or the simmering concern of those far away (breast-feeding mothers in the Arctic) or far in the future (our oft-evoked grandchildren). But for people suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, the chemical crisis is already here. Indeed, thanks to industrialisation, it is already everywhere. And, like so many environment-related health issues, it disproportionately affects the poor and, moreover, drives many once financially stable people into poverty.
As a disease, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities doesn’t have an official case definition yet (more on this soon), but rather refers to a broad range of adverse symptoms brought on by an even more broad array of everyday chemicals. These symptoms are often provoked at exposure levels far below those that seem to affect the rest of the population — levels virtually always present in our homes, workplaces, and social venues. They commonly include severe headaches, food intolerance, difficulty breathing, nausea, irritation of the eyes, ears, nose, throat, and skin, and disorientation or confusion, but there are many more.
Current theories range from a genetic predisposition to chemical injury, to neurological damage, to abnormalities in detoxifying enzymes, to a so-called “toxicant-induced loss of tolerance” to environmental stressors, in which one particular exposure to a toxic substance overwhelms a person’s system and leaves them unable to cope with exposures to a wide range of other toxins.
It can be even more difficult finding an MCS-safe job. Even if a workplace itself is a tolerable environment (rare, given the ubiquity of toxic building materials), basic job-related interactions with the general public can be impossible. “The way a typical story goes,” says Zwillinger, “is that people lose the ability to make a living because they can’t be out in the public arena” without getting ill. Some MCS patients find a way to work from home (assuming they’ve found safe housing) — but that option is seldom available to poorer Americans forced to rely on low-wage, low-skill jobs.
It’s a bitter irony, since many with MCS see themselves as canaries in the modern-day coal mine. As recently as 1986, the exquisitely sensitive yellow birds were used to detect the presence of dangerous gases in mine shafts, and when they showed signs of illness — when they ceased to sing — it was an unambiguous warning: evacuate.
As growing numbers of MCS sufferers are driven from their homes and jobs, pushed to the fringes of medical science and the brink of financial ruin, made sick by industrialised civilisation itself, we would do well to heed their equally urgent warning. And fast, because this time around we can’t evacuate. There’s nowhere else to go.
Air Corps Chemical Abuse Survivors are the canary in the coalmine for inflammatory illness being caused by ubiquitous chemical exposure in our home, work, vehicles, food & clothing.
The appalling high concentration chemical exposure suffered by Air Corps personnel caused chemical related illnesses in young fit men & women in a very short space of time making us a very valuable cluster for medicine & science to study.
Study us, fix us and there will be a public health dividend.
Epigenetics is the study of heritable phenotype changes that do not involve alterations in the DNA sequence. The Greek prefix epi- (ἐπι- “over, outside of, around”) in epigenetics implies features that are “on top of” or “in addition to” the traditional genetic basis for inheritance. Epigenetics most often denotes changes that affect gene activity and expression, but can also be used to describe any heritable phenotypic change. Such effects on cellular and physiological phenotypic traits may result from external or environmental factors, or be part of normal developmental program. The standard definition of epigenetics requires these alterations to be heritable, either in the progeny of cells or of organisms.
The term also refers to the changes themselves: functionally relevant changes to the genome that do not involve a change in the nucleotide sequence. Examples of mechanisms that produce such changes are DNA methylation and histone modification, each of which alters how genes are expressed without altering the underlying DNA sequence. Gene expression can be controlled through the action of repressor proteins that attach to silencer regions of the DNA.
These epigenetic changes may last through cell divisions for the duration of the cell’s life, and may also last for multiple generations even though they do not involve changes in the underlying DNA sequence of the organism; instead, non-genetic factors cause the organism’s genes to behave (or “express themselves”) differently.
A survey carried out by the coalition found that 84% of respondents thought that the health service places too little focus on mental health.
The study found that the public are willing to invest more in mental healthcare when compared to other related healthcare programmes.
Mental Health Reform says staffing in mental health services is lower now than it was in 2008 and it is calling on the Government to boost investment in the area.
Note the graph below only includes personnel for whom we have death certificates for. We are in the process of verifying many more deaths, most of which relate to the earlier decades.
Prevention is better than cure.
If the government bother to medically & scientifically investigate the mental health illness cluster at the #IrishAirCorps where at least 13 serving & former personnel have killed themselves since 1980 they might learn something about environmental causes & triggers of mental health problems.
We suspect hydrocarbon fuels, engine exhausts, isocyanates, VOCs etc all have a part to play and the civilian population get exposed to these too but usually at lower levels.
So far the state have only sent in barristers. Think about it 65 men dead at an average age of 49 years and all the state can mobilise is barristers.
In the absence of military or government statistics on untimely deaths in the Irish Air Corps we created our own. We are happy to have these tested or even proven wrong by better statistics gathered by the state in a comprehensive, open and transparent manner. #WeAreNotStatisticians
A research team from the University of Newcastle (Australia) has completed an investigation into whether there is an association between adverse health and an involvement in F-111 fuel tank deseal/reseal activities and, if so, the nature and strength of that association.
The current health status of those workers was compared with the health of groups of workers with similar backgrounds from Amberley and Richmond air bases.
Yield of literature review
Associations between exposure and health outcomes
Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease and Other Neurological Examinations
Other Neurological Outcomes
Reproductive Health Effects
Other health effects
Health and the Manufacture and Maintenance of Aircraft
Measurement of exposure and outcomes
Measurement of Neuropsychological Deficits
Summary of Results and Implications for General Health and Medical Study
Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease and other Neurological Effects
When the RAAF and the Australian Government discovered there was a chemical exposure problem and associated health problems amongst aircraft maintenance personnel they initiated some health studies one of which became known as SHOAMP. These studies are ongoing and report every 4 years to the best of our knowledge.
Australia does have a Department of Veteran Affairs and operates schemes whereby medical & financial support are in place to support RAAF personnel affected by the F1-11 Deseal / Reseal program.
These schemes are far from perfect and are a cause of ongoing stress amongst Australian survivors but obviously preferable to Ireland where Irish Air Corps sick personnel have to risk their home to take the the state to court while our compassionate medically qualified Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar recently refused medical help for Air Corps personnel in the Irish parliament and goaded sick survivors to sue.
Any person who served in the Irish Army Air Corps needs to read the above document which is the 2003 SHOAMP report. Unfortunately many links on the Australian DVA website are down. As we find newer SHOAMP reports we will make them available.