Story transcripts

Toxic Flyer

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Reporter: Tara Brown
Producer: Gareth Harvey

For some people, flying is an anxious white-knuckle ride as they carry a pressing fear that the aircraft will crash.

But there's another risk that may be far greater, which affects us all.

It's called Aerotoxic Syndrome and it's caused by breathing contaminated cabin air.

Some experts are calling it the asbestos of the airline industry - it can result in a range of serious health problems, even death.

But what's most shocking is the way aircraft manufacturers and operators have known about the problem for years and have done nothing about it.

Story contacts

Feature film 'A Dark Reflection'
Tristan Lorraine, former pilot and now film-maker, is one of the leading international activists and authorities on Aerotoxic Syndrome – and has directed three documentary films on the subject.

He is now directing a feature film entitled A Dark Reflection due for release at Cannes in 2014 about the issues raised in the 60 Minutes program. The film in the style of 'The Insider' or 'Erin Brockovich' is a co-operative model film funded by the public, unions and other interested parties.

For more information visit: or

Aerotoxic Syndrome expert: Dr Susan Michaelis
Dr Susan Michaelis's PhD research completed in 2010 found high rates of neurological, respiratory diseases and cancers amongst aircrew having been exposed to the contaminated air environment.

16 years after having been medically ill health retired as a pilot herself after chronic contaminated air exposures, Susan was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2013.

You can visit her website at

Additional links
Angel Without Wings:
Aerotoxic Association:

Statement from the Boeing company
Bret Jensen, Communications Specialist

Boeing has been working for years to make improvements to the environmental control systems on its airplanes. The air within an airplane's cabin is always circulating, with half the air constantly being replaced with clean outside air and the other half being re-circulated through HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters that remove over 99 percent of any particulate matter present.
In addition, Boeing is involved with industry groups (that include other manufacturers such as Airbus, airlines, flight crew representatives, etc.) that are studying cabin air quality and looking for ways to improve the flying experience. Boeing and its peers within the industry are always striving to enhance passenger safety and comfort to make the flying experience as enjoyable as possible. Boeing employees and their families are passengers too. We would never put passengers at risk by ignoring or covering up data that could point to a problem with our airplanes.

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