UCL News


UCL in the News: Toxic fumes on planes

10 June 2007

Sarah Mackenzie Ross [UCL Psychology] estimated in a recently published paper that on that basis 197,000 passengers on nearly 2,000 UK flights were exposed in 2004 alone.

She has also examined 27 affected pilots for another official investigation being conducted by the Committee on Toxicity, which advises government departments.

She found that all but one of the pilots suffered "chronic health problems, including fatigue, sleep difficulties, fluctuating gastrointestinal problems, numbness and tingling in fingers and toes, memory loss and word-finding difficulties".

Some, she added, reported "alarming cognitive failures", including: "being unable to retain, or confusing, numerical data and information provided by air traffic control regarding altitude and speed; completing tasks in the incorrect sequence; setting the wrong cleared level for the aircraft to climb or descend; and being unable to recall important matters such as whether the undercarriage has been raised or lowered." …

Geoffrey Lean, 'The Independent'