100 Untimely* deaths recorded in Irish Air Corps toxic chemical exposure tragedy!

Untimely* deaths of serving & former Irish Air Corps personnel

  • 100 verified deaths have occurred in total since 1980 
  • 87 of these deaths have occurred since 2000
  • 62 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

  • 41% of deaths are from cancer
  • 5% of deaths are specifically pancretic cancer
  • 29% of deaths are from cardiac issues
  • 6% of deaths are specifically cardiomyopathy related
  • 15% of deaths are from suicide (at least 15 suicides)

*We record untimely as dying at or before age 66 (civilian pension age), average age of death is 53 years. We are counting deaths from medical reasons & suicide, we are not counting accidental deaths nor murder.

We are not stating that every single death is directly due to chemical exposure but many personnel who did not handle chemicals directly were unknowingly exposed due to close proximity to contaminated work locations.

Joe Duffy, Liveline & the Irish Air Corps Toxic Chemical Exposure Scandal

In 1990, RTE radio’s Gay Byrne & Joe Duffy paid a live visit to the Irish Air Corps at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel. Since the above photo was taken, 94 serving & former Air Corps personnel have suffered untimely* deaths, dying at an average age of 53 years.

Many more personnel along with their partners & children have suffered catastrophic physical & mental health issues due to decades of unprotected & unmitigated toxic chemical exposure including exposure to CMRs

Joe Duffy is now the host of Liveline but when Irish Air Corps survivors attempted to get on the show they were refused.

Uncritical Irish Air Corps PR pieces by RTE radio continue while RTE news ignores the toxic chemical exposure scandal that HSA inspectors described as “the worst case of chemical misuse in the history of the state”.

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Untimely* deaths of serving & former Irish Air Corps personnel

  • 99 verified deaths have occurred in total since 1980 
  • 86 of these deaths have occurred since 2000
  • 61 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

  • 42% of deaths are from cancer
  • 27% of deaths are from cardiac issues
  • 15% of deaths are from suicide (at least 15 suicides)

*We record untimely as dying at or before age 66 (civilian pension age), average age of death is 53 years. We are counting deaths from medical reasons & suicide, we are not counting accidental deaths nor murder.

We are not stating that every single death is directly due to chemical exposure but many personnel who did not handle chemicals directly were unknowingly exposed due to close proximity to contaminated work locations.

Impact of Firefighting Aqueous Film-Forming Foams on Human Cell Proliferation and Cellular Mortality

Abstract

Objective

Evaluate the toxic effects of Aqueous Film-Forming Foams used by firefighters for Class B fire suppression in human-derived kidney cells (HEK-293).

Methods

Three widely used AFFFs were collected from fire departments and were added to HEK-293 cells in various concentrations. Seventy-two hours post-treatment, cellular proliferation and toxicity were examined using commercially available kits.

Results

All AFFFs evaluated induced cellular toxicity and significantly decreased cell proliferation, even when cells were treated with concentrations 10-fold lower than the working concentration used for fire suppression.

Conclusion

Despite the reduced usage of PFAS-containing AFFFs in the firefighter work environment, the evaluated AFFFs demonstrated significantly altered cellular proliferation, while also inducing toxicity, indicating the presence of toxic compounds. Both stronger implementation of PFAS-containing AFFFs restrictions and robust evaluation of fluorine-free and next-generation AFFFs are warranted.

In Brief

Firefighters are routinely exposed to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) through the use of Aqueous Film-Forming Foams (AFFFs) for the suppression of Class B fire, which derive from flammable and combustible liquids, such as gasoline and alcohol. The addition of surfactants and PFAS in the AFFFs allows them to form an aqueous film that can extinguish the fire, while also coating the fuel. As such, AFFFs are often used for fire extinction in airports and military bases.

Exposure to PFAS in the general population may arise from ingestion of contaminated food or water, usage of consumer products containing PFAS, such as non-stick cookware or stain resistant carpets and textiles, and inhalation of PFAS-containing particulate matter. Detection of increased serum PFAS concentrations has been linked to an elevated risk for kidney cancer in humans, and firefighters are known to have increased serum concentrations of certain PFAS after attending training exercises. In the same study it was also observed that the average urinary excretions of 2-butoxyacetic acid (2-BAA) a surfactant often added in AFFFs exceeded the reference limit of the occupationally unexposed population, ranging from 0.5 to 1.4 mmol/mol creatinine.

Furthermore, an increased risk of mortality from kidney cancer has been observed in firefighters compared to the U.S. population. The detrimental health effects of PFAS are exacerbated by their increased half-lives in humans. A recently published study examined the half-lives of short- and long- chained PFAS in the serum of 26 airport employees and observed a wide range of half-lives which was dependent on the length and chemical structure of each substance that was examined. Indicatively, the shortest half-life was described for perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS), while the linear isomer of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) had the longest half-life (average of 44 days and 2.93 years, respectively), findings which are in agreement with other sources in the literature.

One aspect of this phenomenon could be attributed to renal reabsorption, as humans actively transport PFAS in the proximal tubules. A recently published scoping review of 74 epidemiologic, pharmacokinetic, and toxicological studies examined the relationship between PFAS exposure and kidney-related health outcomes. It was observed that exposure to PFAS was associated with lower kidney function, including chronic kidney disease (CKD), and histological abnormalities in the kidneys, as well as alterations in key mechanistic pathways, that can induce oxidative stress, and metabolic changes leading to kidney disease.

The alarming number of studies showcasing the harmful health effects pertaining to PFAS exposure has led to the banning of the production of AFFFs containing highly toxic, long chain PFAS, such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) since 2015. However, this regulation is gradually being implemented across states and little is known about the toxicity of the next generation AFFFs. Based on the above, in the present study we evaluate cellular proliferation and toxicity in kidney-derived cells (HEK-293) that were exposed to three widely used AFFFs.

Read full study below

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Organic solvents and Multiple Sclerosis susceptibility

Abstract

Photo of dichloromethane (DCM) as stored by Irish Air Corps in 2015. DCM was banned in the EU in 2012.
Objective

We hypothesize that different sources of lung irritation may contribute to elicit an immune reaction in the lungs and subsequently lead to multiple sclerosis (MS) in people with a genetic susceptibility to the disease. We aimed to investigate the influence of exposure to organic solvents on MS risk, and a potential interaction between organic solvents and MS risk human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes.

Methods

Using a Swedish population-based case-control study (2,042 incident cases of MS and 2,947 controls), participants with different genotypes, smoking habits, and exposures to organic solvents were compared regarding occurrence of MS, by calculating odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals using logistic regression. A potential interaction between exposure to organic solvents and MS risk HLA genes was evaluated by calculating the attributable proportion due to interaction.

Results

Overall, exposure to organic solvents increased the risk of MS (odds ratio 1.5, 95% confidence interval 1.2–1.8, p = 0.0004). Among both ever and never smokers, an interaction between organic solvents, carriage of HLA-DRB1*15, and absence of HLA-A*02 was observed with regard to MS risk, similar to the previously reported gene-environment interaction involving the same MS risk HLA genes and smoke exposure.

Conclusion

The mechanism linking both smoking and exposure to organic solvents to MS risk may involve lung inflammation with a proinflammatory profile. Their interaction with MS risk HLA genes argues for an action of these environmental factors on adaptive immunity, perhaps through activation of autoaggressive cells resident in the lungs subsequently attacking the CNS.

Read full study below

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Anecdotal evidence has been emerging for some time of potential illness clusters at Casement Aerodrome to which Multiple Sclerosis has now been added. We are calling for these potential clusters to be investigated by competent authorities.

Suspected illness clusters currently include.

99 Untimely* deaths recorded in Irish Air Corps toxic chemical exposure tragedy

Untimely* deaths of serving & former Irish Air Corps personnel

  • 99 verified deaths have occurred in total since 1980 
  • 86 of these deaths have occurred since 2000
  • 61 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

  • 42% of deaths are from cancer
  • 27% of deaths are from cardiac issues
  • 15% of deaths are from suicide (at least 15 suicides)

*We record untimely as dying at or before age 66 (civilian pension age), average age of death is 53 years. We are counting deaths from medical reasons & suicide, we are not counting accidental deaths nor murder.

We are not stating that every single death is directly due to chemical exposure but many personnel who did not handle chemicals directly were unknowingly exposed due to close proximity to contaminated work locations.

Dáil Éireann Written Answers 5th April 2022 – Irish Air Corps surveillance of whistle-blowers

Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)

QUESTION NO: 435

To ask the Minister for Defence the number of serving and former Air Corps whistle-blowers who have been placed under surveillance by the State Claims Agency or its agents. [18187/22]

QUESTION NO: 444

To ask the Minister for Defence the number of serving and former Air Corps whistle-blowers who have been placed under surveillance by the Defence Forces. [18185/22]

Simon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 435 and 444 together.

The conduct of surveillance activities by the Defence Forces is an operational security matter carried out in line with relevant national legislation. The relevant military authorities provide regular assessments, reports and briefings to me, as Minister for Defence, to the Secretary General of the Department of Defence and to the Chief of Staff. These assessments, by their nature, are confidential.

I am informed by the State Claims Agency that they do not comment on individual claims. The Agency’s statutory mandate is to manage claims in such a manner as to ensure that the State’s liability is contained at the lowest achievable level.

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DELAY – DENY – DIE – SPY

98 Untimely* deaths recorded in Irish Air Corps toxic chemical exposure tragedy

Untimely* deaths of serving & former Irish Air Corps personnel

  • 98 verified deaths have occurred in total since 1980 
  • 85 of these deaths have occurred since 2000
  • 60 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

  • 41% of deaths are from cancer
  • 28% of deaths are from cardiac issues
  • 15% of deaths are from suicide (at least 15 suicides)

*We record untimely as dying at or before age 66 (civilian pension age), average age of death is 53 years. We are counting deaths from medical reasons & suicide, we are not counting accidental deaths nor murder.

We are not stating that every single death is directly due to chemical exposure but many personnel who did not handle chemicals directly were unknowingly exposed due to close proximity to contaminated work locations.

97 Untimely* deaths recorded in Irish Air Corps toxic chemical exposure tragedy

Untimely* deaths of serving & former Irish Air Corps personnel

  • 97 verified deaths have occurred in total since 1980 
  • 84 of these deaths have occurred since 2000
  • 59 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

  • 40% of deaths are from cancer
  • 27% deaths are from cardiac issues
  • 15% of deaths are from suicide (at least 15 suicides)

*We record untimely as dying at or before age 66 (civilian pension age), average age of death is 53 years. We are counting deaths from medical reasons & suicide, we are not counting accidental deaths nor murder.

We are not stating that every single death is directly due to chemical exposure but many personnel who did not handle chemicals directly were unknowingly exposed due to close proximity to contaminated work locations.

What did the British ever do for us? A fit for purpose solvent extraction system at Irish Air Corps!

The British Royal Flying Corps built a solvent exhaust stack at the now Irish Air Corps airbase at Baldonnel over 100 years ago. This exhaust stack stack featured a powerful fan for safely removing solvent fumes from a degreasing bath.
In the mid 1980s the Air Corps Machine Shop was moved to this location at the front of the ERF (Engine Repair Flight) building. To facilitate this move the “Trike Bath”, a heated trichloroethylene solvent vapour degreaser, was located to a new Non Destructive Testing (NDT) Shop to the rear of Engine Repair Flight (ERF). The 25 foot extractor chimney was replaced with an inadequate 6 inch fan which was ducted through a nearby window. 
Around 2006 an NDT technician in ERF turned yellow from jaundice due to a chemical induced liver injury. After the NDT technician turned yellow the officer in charge of Health & Safety ordered that the Safety Data Register and adverse air quality tests be destroyed.
The ERF building was condemned in September 2007, a fact that was denied in the Dáil by the former Junior Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe TD.
After some serving & former ERF personnel sought their medical files throught their solicitors in early 2008 the building vanished.
#97dead #DelayDenyDie #TCE #Trike

Trichloroethylene used to clean the floors in Irish Air Corps cookhouse!

Every now and again when investigating poor health & untimely deaths of colleagues in the Irish Air Corps at Casement Aerodrome we come across a cluster of unexplained deaths or illness in particular work locations.

Exposures are briefly explained by location below those in RED were unexplained until personnel came forward to highlight misuse of chemicals in these locations.

Apprentice Hostel

Exposure to asbestos was the main problem in the apprentice hostel and it does not appear to have been fully removed until the mid 1990s although some efforts were made to remove the bulk of it in the late 1980s. The 1990s effort used a professional removal service while the late 1980s effort used apprentices without any PPE whatsoever. Persistent black marks on lino or floor tiles would be dealt with by calling to the nearest hangar or workshop to borrow some MEK or Trike

Avionics, ERF & Parachute Shop

Illness & untimely deaths in Avionics Squadron and Engine Repair Flight (Engine Shop) can be explained by unprotected exposure to the chemicals used in both locations and by their exposure to exhaust fumes from the Spray Paint Facility. The Parachute Shop which was part of ERF establishment also used toxic glues and exposed personnel to fumes from PU coated drysuits.

Basic Flight Training School

Illness & untimely deaths in BFTS can be explained by the IRAN inspections where DCM/Phenol paint strippers were used without PPE and the extensive use (like in heli) of corrosion inhibitors like Mastinox. Of course the fuel for the Marchettis was leaded gasoline with its own issues.

Battery Shop

Illness in the battery shop can be explained by exposure to battery electrolytes & charging fumes. The personnel walking around here with holes in their jumper, trousers and shirts from sulphuric acid was almost comical if it wasn’t such a serious risk to their health.

Cookhouse / NCOs Mess

Until now we had not been able to satisfactorily explain the unusual body count & illnesses of personnel who served in the old cookhouse kitchen, new cookhouse kitchen and NCOs Mess kitchen.

Recently we were made aware of a practice in the old cookhouse as far back as the mid 1970s whereby personnel who worked there procured solvent degreaser from up camp. We believe this degreaser again to be trichloroethylene.

This solvent was provided sometimes in 25 litre drums and sometimes in gallon containers where it was usually decanted into smaller vessels like milk bottles or coke bottles to be spread on the floor and then mopped and squeegeed until the floor was spotless.

And it turns out that this practice continued in the new cookhouse and technicians from ERF who dropped down 25 litre drums of Trike were rewarded with a wrap up of some food like steaks.

We believe this floor degreasing practice occurred in the NCOS Mess kitchen but we have no evidence yet that it occurred in the Officers Mess Kitchen but given the fluidity of personnel movements between the various catering locations it is a distinct possibility.

For some information on Illnesses caused by trichloroethylene click here.

Engineering Wing Hangar & Workshops

Illness & untimely deaths in Engineering Wing Hanagar can be explained by unprotected exposure to Paint Shop chemicals including isocyanates & thinners, Hydraulic Shop chemicals, Sheet Metal Shop chemicals, wood dust from the Carpentry Shop, welding fumes from the Welding Shop as well as paint stripper fumes and mastinox fumes from Marchetti IRANs or Alouette equivalent teardowns.

Fire Crew

Members of the fire crew would have had exposure to exhaust gasses of idling aircraft engines and would have also had exposure to fuel fumes  and burning fumes from training exercises. The Fire Crew also used PFAS based fire fighting foams.

Heli Wing

Illness & untimely deaths in Heli Wing are easily explained by unprotected exposure to the chemicals used maintaining helicopters, by exposure to fuel vapours from gravity refueling, exposure to exhaust gasses from gas turbine engines and the immune sensitisation capabilities of polyurethane coated immersion suits.  Toxic tubbing in Heli was also a thing.

Light Strike Squadron

Similarly illness & untimely deaths in Light Strike Squadron can be explained by unprotected exposure to refueling fumes, exhaust gasses and other lubricants, greases, hydraulic fluids and sealants used to maintain the Fougas. Toxic tubbing in LSS was also a thing.

Main Block

Illness & untimely deaths in the Main block can be explained by unprotected exposure to photographic film & printing chemicals. These photographic chemicals used in photo section drove death, illness & harm to offspring in personnel throughout the main block

Chemicals in use by workshops in Air Sp Coy Signals further exposed personnel in the mainblock to chemicals they would not have expected to be exposed to like trichloroethane etc.

Units exposed in the main block would include 

  • Admin Wing HQ
  • AE Section
  • Drawing Office
  • Air Corps INT
  • Medical Aid Post
  • Sgt Majors Office
  • Signals Bottom Workshop
  • Signals Top Workshop
  • Signals COMCEN
  • Signals Orderly Room & CO’s Office
  • Signals PC Maintenance Workshop
  • Signals Stores
  • Station Commanders Office

Main Tech Stores

Illness & untimely deaths in Main Technical stores can be explained by the fact that the building is sited on the old Camp Stables where hundreds if not thousands of litres of toxic chemicals such as Ardrox 666 were dumped into the ground. Complaints were made by civilian & military personnel about poor air quality  in MTS and studies were carried out but the reports have disappeared. There is also evidence that used chemical drums containing isocyanates were stored in MTS in an open state.

Photo Section

When photo section moved out of the Main Block to the old cookhouse in the early 1990s they brought their dangerous chemicals to this new locations. This new location was better equipped than the expellair in the main block. But faulty equipment and lack of chemical health & safety training meant illness & death continued.

Photographers who flew regularly exposure to refueling fumes, exhaust gasses from gas turbine engines and the immune sensitisation capabilities of polyurethane coated immersion suits.

Refuelers

Obviously refuelers were exposed on an ongoing basis to high amounts of refueling fumes and aircraft exhaust gasses but also to other dangerous additives like FSII.

Training Depot

On at least two occasions that we are aware of there was catastrophic damage caused to floors and walls by misuse of chemicals in ACTD.

On the first occasion in the late 1980s we are aware of a recruit using what we suspect to be a large quantity of MEK on twine backed traditional lino the last room on the left of the depot. The use of the chemical on this occasion melted the lino through to the twine backing.

On the second occasion in the mid 1990s at least 25 litres of trichloroethylene was used to clean the floor of some of the demonstration rooms that had been recently redecorated. The Trike was spread on the floor using mops and squeegees making the apprentices carrying out the job high. The next morning it was discovered that all the floor tiles had shriveled up and that all the paint on the walls up to about 1m had dissolved and flowed down the walls to the floor.

For some information on Illnesses caused by MEK click here.

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The physical layout of Baldonne means that the prevailing wind blows the exhaust gasses from idling aircraft over the whole camp.

There does not appear to have been any initiative whatsoever to reduce camp personnel exposure to exhaust gasses and in many cases aircraft exhaust into hangars due to the prevailing wind.

We have little information on chemical exposures at Gormanston except for tubbing and the use of JetA1 powered heaters inside hangars. We would welcome any information in this regards.