Monthly Archive for August 2011

Airline pays passenger €50,000 because of pesticide on board

Life-threatening asthma attack in airplane triggered by Permethrin

An Irish businessman suffered from a severe allergic reaction during an Air France flight because the airline sprayed the pesticide permethrin on board. James Lapham sued Air France and received €50,000 compensation for damages for the first time in history as was stated in the Irish Independent newspaper. Mr. Lapham, an asthmatic, barely survived the incident and is still receiving medical treatment after 8 months.

Pesticides are often part of everyday life on board

The spraying of pesticides on planes is not unusual. For hygiene reasons, and because it is feared that pests could be transported, many countries require the spraying of pesticides. Normally, the passengers are not informed or warned. The estimated number of passengers who suffered health problems during a flight due to pesticide on board is most likely high. Airlines worldwide now fear that this case could constitute a precedent, and that other passengers suffering from ailments may call upon this case.

A German lawyer led a lawsuit against Air France in 2008. He had also suffered health problems caused by the spraying of pesticides on board. The airline denied him the information as to what pesticide had been used. The Frankfurt regional court’s verdict in December 2008 gave the attorney only half right.

An even bigger worry for the airlines than the single passenger cases, is complaints from flight staff who have become ill due to pesticides and may take advantage of the current case.

Asthma attacks caused by pesticides

The Independent writes that James Lapham was on a flight from Rabat to Dublin when the incident occurred. He had only been on board for 10 minutes when he experienced breathing difficulties. The Irish Independent reports that the flight attendants had sprayed permethrin, a neurotoxic pesticide, in the cabin. Permethrin is a Pyrethroide, and is a pesticide which is known for, among other things, triggering allergic and non-allergic asthma. Permethrin is prohibited on flights in the U.S. because the pesticide has been classified by the EPA as carcinogenic since 1997.

Emergency landing due to asthmatic’s reaction to pesticide

The Irish businessman reacted so violently to the permethrin that the flight attendants had to give him oxygen. This intervention was not enough and Mr. Lapham’s asthmatic condition worsened and the aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing in Morocco. The businessman was brought by ambulance to a hospital, where he was stabilized with cortisone. The Independent stated that Mr. Lapham might indeed work again, but is still in need of medical treatment.

Sick due to pesticides in airplane – not an isolated case

The Irish businessman James Lapham is not an isolated case. Particularly flight staffs on long-haul flights in hot regions have been complaining for years about the use of pesticides and the damaging health effects caused by the toxic chemicals. Court cases in different countries are pending and flight attendants have organized internationally for years.

James Lapham pled at the Irish High Court at the Montreal Convention. Passengers cannot receive more than € 100,000 damages under this convention, the Irishman won half, €50.000. Whether more cases will be recognized can not be predicted, because airlines still claim that permethrin had been recommended by the WHO, although scientific studies on the health damaging effects of neurotoxic pesticide are increasing.

Author: Silvia K. Müller, CSN – Chemical Sensitivity Network, 21. August 2011

Literature: Independent, Airline pays out €50,000 in pest-killer spray case, August 09, 2011

Support for sufferers of Aerotoxic Syndrome: AEROTOXIC ASSOCIATION

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Since when do fish use perfume?

Environmental contamination from the everyday habits of humans cause “perfumed” fish

We encounter fragrances in everyday situations. We have “our world” scented even if we prefer to live fragrance and chemical-free. These scents come to us via our daily hygiene, food, cleaning products, baby diapers, candles, hotel rooms, and even socks and subway tickets have fragrance added. Mixtures of chemicals usually make up the perfumed ingredients. They accumulate in our fatty tissue, breast milk, and in our environment. A governmental laboratory in Switzerland found fish in high alpine lakes with fragrance ingredients. How did they get there, at altitudes seldom reached by a hiker, in a region where nobody lives?

The dream of clean air and water

Take a look at a peaceful scene in nature… high mountains at two thousand meters, crystal clear air, breathtaking panoramic views with deep blue mountain lakes. This scenery gives one the opportunity to feel one with nature, but appearances can be deceiving. A Swiss government laboratory for analytical chemistry has found samples of fish from the lakes in high mountains and lowlands which contain persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and fragrance ingredients.

Fish repository for insecticides, flame retardants, and fragrances?

Fish were examined from alpine lakes in seven regions above 2062-2637 meters sea level. The scientists found concentrations of old insecticides, and long banned chemicals like DDT, DDE, dieldrin, HPEX, HCB, HCH, PCBs, PCDD / F and PBDE in the fatty tissue of the fish . In addition to these highly questionable chemicals were found seven different artificial musks and Musk xylenes. These chemicals are components in fragrance mixtures, which are found in nursing, cleaning, laundry products and perfume.

Precipitation transports chemicals to the lake fish

Concentrations of PCBs, PCDD / F and PBDE were found in fish from high mountain lakes as well as in the lowlands. Things were very different from the concentration of synthetic musk compounds. These substances which came out of detergents and cosmetics were found in higher quantities in fish of the lowlands than in fish in higher regions. The reason is that the lakes in lowland regions are much more contaminated because sewage treatment plants release water which is still contaminated with these substances. An effect which doesn’t exist in higher mountain regions.

Everyday scents have side effects

According to the Swiss scientists, there is only one explanation for the fragrance ingredients and persistent chemicals in fish found in the high mountains: they come directly from atmospheric precipitation and air pollution. Rain, snow, and fog from our atmosphere in these regions are the cause/source for the contamination of the fish with fragrance ingredients. The environmental contamination from the everyday habits of humans cause “perfumed” fish. This development should show everyone the importance of having a critical mind in a scented world.

This year, which is more recent that this 2007 research, there was also an article in Berner Oberland about the fish in Lake Thun not being good for eating due to the chemical contamination.


Silvia K. Müller, Seit wann benutzen Fische Parfüm, CSN – Chemical Sensitivity Network

Translation: Christi Howarth


Schmid P, Kohler M, Gujer E, Zennegg M, Lanfranchi M. Empa, Persistent organic pollutants, brominated flame retardants and synthetic musks in fish from remote alpine lakes in Switzerland , Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research Laboratory for Analytical Chemistry Dubendorf, Switzerland. Chemosphere, January 2007

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