Toxic airplane cabin air, some say, can lead to an illness known as Aerotoxic Syndrome.
A flight attendant for U.S. Airways claims toxic airplane cabin air is making flight crews sick. The toxic airplane cabin air, which some say can lead to an illness known as Aerotoxic Syndrome, has been linked to problems with the bleed air systems used on most aircraft to recirculate cabin air during flight.

Most commercial planes are designed to make cabin air by drawing in a compressed supply of it from plane engines. Typically, this "bleed air" is mixed with existing cabin air and recirculated throughout the flight. Unfortunately, this system does not always remove fumes or vapors from the engine. If it malfunctions, these chemical contaminants - including fumes from the oil that lubricates the engine - can result in toxic airplane cabin air.

According to the Aerotoxic Association, this toxic airplane cabin air can result in Aerotoxic Syndrome. Symptoms can range from short-term nausea, light-headedness, and breathing issues to more persistent problems, including neurological damage. Unfortunately, Aerotoxic Syndrome is not widely recognized, and is often misdiagnosed as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, "mysterious" viral infections, sleep disorders, depression, stress or anxiety, the Aerotoxic Association says.

"I'm talking because I think passengers need to know," the veteran US Airways flight attendant - who asked to remain anonymous - recently told WBTV in Charlotte, North Carolina. "I felt like I had to come forward for the health of myself and my co-workers."

According to the fight attendant, sometime in the past three years she was on an airplane when toxins were released into the cabin - an occurrence known as a fume event. Everyone on board the aircraft was able to smell the fumes in the air, and according to the flight attendant, every crew member has since sought medical attention. Their most common symptoms included headaches and respiratory difficulties.

A spokesman for the U.S. Airways Pilot Association also told WBTV that such fume events have been a problem for fight crews.

"Pilots and flight attendants alike have been sent to the hospital on multiple occasions. Some remain in the hospital," the spokesperson said. "We have pilots who have lost their FAA certificate because of exposure to these toxins. So it is certainly a concern we have."

According to WBTV, it has reported on toxic airplane cabin air that twice caused problems on a U.S. Airways plane in 2010, both of which were confirmed by the airline. One fume event, on Fight 1041 last January, resulted in some crew members being taken to the hospital, though they were released several house later. However, some crew members sickened by the toxic airplane air have yet to return to work.

According to the Association of Flight Attendants, 30 U.S. Airways aircraft on the east coast have been impacted in the past year by toxic airplane air.

However, the flight attendant interviewed by WBTV was quick to point out that U.S. Airways is not the only airline to experience problems with toxic airplane air. Apparently, it is an industry-wide issue.