Flight Attendants Demand Cleaner In-Flight Air

Jan. 8, 2001
Flight attendants continued their push for tighter regulations governing air quality on board commercial jets at a recent\r\ngovernment scientific panel meeting.

Airline flight crews continue their fight to receive the same type of workplace protections as other workers.

Flight attendants continued their push for tighter federal regulations governing air quality on board commercial jets at a government scientific panel meeting last week.

A representative of the 50,000-member Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) told a committee from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) that currently allowed levels of carbon monoxide, ozone and other contaminants put airline cabin crews'' health at risk.

The union has collected hundreds of reports of headache, nausea, memory loss and other symptoms among its members over the past nine years that it says was caused from exposure to contaminants on planes.

AFA wants stricter standards governing the amount of carbon monoxide allowed in aircraft cabins.

Current OSHA workplace standards set the limit at 50 parts per million, though EPA views carbon monoxide levels of less than 9 parts per million as safe.

But it has never been proven that toxic gasses on planes are the cause of crews complaints.

An ongoing study at the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is looking at a variety of symptoms in 6,000 flight attendants to see if there are any patterns in the complaints.

The NAS committee was ordered by Congress last year -- mostly at the urging of flight attendant unions -- to come up with scientifically based recommendations that the Federal Aviation Administration could use to write new air quality regulations.

NAS''s report is expected to be released later this year.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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