Untimely* deaths of serving & former Irish Air Corps personnel
88 verified deaths have occurred in total since 1980
75 of these deaths have occurred since 2000
51 of these deaths have occurred since 2010
Either the rate of death is accelerating or we are missing many deaths from previous decades or possibly both.
3 most significant causes of death
39% of deaths are from cancer
29% deaths are from cardiac
At least 15 deaths are from suicide
*We record untimely as dying at or before age 66 (civilian pension age), average age of death is 52 years. We are counting deaths from medical reasons & suicide, we are not counting accidental deaths nor murder.
Airport personnel are at risk of occupational exposure to jet engine emissions, which similarly to diesel exhaust emissions include volatile organic compounds and particulate matter consisting of an inorganic carbon core with associated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and metals. Diesel exhaust is classified as carcinogenic and the particulate fraction has in itself been linked to several adverse health effects including cancer.
In this review, we summarize the available scientific literature covering human health effects of exposure to airport emissions, both in occupational settings and for residents living close to airports. We also report the findings from the limited scientific mechanistic studies of jet engine emissions in animal and cell models.
Jet engine emissions contain large amounts of nano-sized particles, which are particularly prone to reach the lower airways upon inhalation. Size of particles and emission levels depend on type of aircraft, engine conditions, and fuel type, as well as on operation modes. Exposure to jet engine emissions is reported to be associated with biomarkers of exposure as well as biomarkers of effect among airport personnel, especially in ground-support functions. Proximity to running jet engines or to the airport as such for residential areas is associated with increased exposure and with increased risk of disease, increased hospital admissions and self-reported lung symptoms.
We conclude that though the literature is scarce and with low consistency in methods and measured biomarkers, there is evidence that jet engine emissions have physicochemical properties similar to diesel exhaust particles, and that exposure to jet engine emissions is associated with similar adverse health effects as exposure to diesel exhaust particles and other traffic emissions.
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 & living-in 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.
AN airman who flew choppers with Prince William has proved his rare form of bone marrow cancer was caused by the RAF Sea King.
Flight Sergeant Zach Stubbings was diagnosed with multiple myeloma after years of inhaling toxic exhaust fumes spewed from the powerful twin engines of the now retired aircraft.
And last month, the winch operator won a settlement from the Ministry of Defence after a six-year legal battle. Zach has been paid an undisclosed sum and the MoD had to admit in writing his 15 years of service in the RAF caused his life-threatening condition.
It will likely spark concern for the royals. Wills flew the Sea King in 150 search-and-rescue operations over a three-year period. It is not known if he was affected by the fumes. Prince Andrew also flew the aircraft in the Falklands in 1982.
And The Sun can lift the lid on an apparent government cover-up of the issue. Bombshell documents uncovered by Zach during his legal fight prove experts warned the MoD of the dangers of the Sea King exhaust as far back as 1999 but nothing was done.
Zach, 42, of Cardiff, said: “The Government chose to ignore it. It’s a scandal.”