August 31, 2017 – With ‘aerotoxic syndrome’ being a talking point in the aerospace industry today (indeed it is the cover story of our September 2017 issue), the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) has worked with clinical toxicologists to create a ‘care pathway’ for patients exhibiting possible cabin fume-related symptoms, which could include itching or soreness of the eyes, nasal discharge, sore throat or coughing. BALPA has been liaising with Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Civil Aviation Authority, easyJet and academia for the initiative.
BALPA says it’s important to have a clear pathway in place. As the potential problem is complex, some cases may require medical specialists to assess them correctly. BALPA’s head of flight safety, Dr Rob Hunter, said, “Care pathways are approved by authoritative medical bodies and represent the best use of NHS resources. Although the vast majority of fume events do not lead to crew and passengers requiring treatment, we want to ensure the proper processes are put in place for those who do.
“Working with our partners we feel this new pathway will enable doctors to take the appropriate steps to ensure the affected person gets the best treatment. We believe until now, there has been a lot of confusing information and pilots have been unsure as to who they should see if they have persisting symptoms.
“BALPA hopes that the work we’ve done in this area will give pilots a clearer understanding of who is best to treat them. We also hope that use of the pathway will facilitate further research, which would be led by the center of excellence at the Clinical Toxicology Unit of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, in understanding the possible health effects of contaminated cabin air.”