FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Denise Romano at firstname.lastname@example.org
November 22, 2019
TWU Toxic Cabin Air Lobby Day
Supporting the Cabin Air Safety Act of 2019
WASHINGTON, DC – On Wednesday, November 20, members of the Transport Workers of America (TWU) met at our nation’s Capitol to encourage Members of Congress to support the Cabin Air Safety Act of 2019. Introduced by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA-3), the legislation would help set our cabin air on a path to being healthy and safe. Flight attendants from JetBlue, Southwest, and Allegiant airlines participated, as well as other TWU members from across the country.
What Are Toxic Fumes?
Cabin crew and airline passengers are being exposed to toxic fumes which can cause severe health effects, including brain damage, cancer, and loss of motor function. Passengers are often unaware that the air they breathe on board is circulated through a series of mechanical processes to “bleed” air from around the engines. When these processes malfunction, toxic fumes can seep into the cabin air, releasing gasified engine oil, hydraulic fuel, and other aircraft fluids which can become potent nerve agents.
These nerve agents can be absorbed through inhalation and through the skin. Repeated or prolonged exposure to these – such as the daily exposure flight attendants and pilots endure – may result in the same effects as acute exposure. Some TWU members have become completely disabled from exposure to these chemicals.
The TWU was joined in solidarity by the Executive Vice President Captain Bob Fox and other members of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) ahead of the lobby day.
“It’s completely unconscionable that in today’s world, where we know the negative health consequences of these compounds, we have no regulations in place for the air we’re breathing onboard aircraft. Lives and careers are at stake,” said TWU International President John Samuelsen. “Thanks to everyone who came out today to fight for the health and safety of our frontline workers, as well as the flying public.”
“In my nearly four decades as a flight attendant, I have never experienced anything as difficult and troubling as toxic fumes in our cabins. So many flight attendants and pilots have suffered hundreds of injuries from these fume events – and the number is growing exponentially,” stated Shane Rogers-Mauro, flight attendant and victim of a toxic fume event. “How many more lives need to be negatively altered as a result of a maintenance issue, which should have been addressed quickly and effectively? The daily headaches, respiratory distress, fatigue, memory loss – and in my case tremors – make my daily life difficult and problematic. Flight crews everywhere are standing up and saying, ‘Enough!’ as we demand action from the airlines, the FAA, aircraft and engine manufacturers and even our Congressional representatives.”
“ALPA is grateful to Senator Blumenthal and Representatives Garamendi and Fitzpatrick for their efforts in the fight to keep our skies safe and healthy. Through their leadership, we have been making progress on helping our industry facilitate open discussions around research, education, standardized reporting, and data collection of air quality or fume events aboard aircraft. It is time to stop ignoring these serious events and start protecting passengers and crew from any hidden and toxic fumes,” said Capt. Bob Fox, Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l First Vice President.
“I am grateful to the flight attendants, pilots, and TWU members who took time out of their busy lives to come to Capitol Hill and advocate for the Cabin Air Safety Act,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “These professionals are at the highest risk of experiencing a toxic fume event in the air, but they’re also here advocating for the health and safety of airline passengers. We’re going to keep fighting to protect the flying public and airline crews by ensuring the cabin air they breathe during flights is safe—free from any hidden and toxic fumes.”
“All Americans have the right to expect safe, clean air when travelling or reporting to work. I am deeply concerned by the documented cases where pilots, flight attendants, and other airline crewmembers have become sick and even hospitalized from toxic cabin air,” said Rep. Garamendi. “The Cabin Air Safety Act takes commonsense steps to protect airline passengers and crew, including installing carbon monoxide detectors in commercial aircraft. I thank Senator Blumenthal for leading this bill in the Senate, and TWU for their support for the legislation. I look forward to working together to advance this critical bill.”
“It is always great to meet with TWU to discuss issues facing their members. I am proud to be a co-sponsor of the Cabin Air Safety Act,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “No American should have to worry about the air quality of their workspace. This bill would ensure that the air quality on aircraft is safe for flight attendants, pilots, and passengers. I look forward to working with my colleagues to see this bill become law.”
Click here to read more about the TWU’s Toxic Cabin Air campaign.
The Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO, represents more than 150,000 workers across the airline, railroad, transit, universities, utilities and services sectors