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Tox Town - Environmental health concerns and toxic chemicals where you live, work, and play
Airplanes and Air Travelen español

Why are airplanes a concern?

Airplanes make it possible for thousands of people to travel short and long distances every day, within and outside the United States. However, airplanes emit several hazardous air pollutants, and aviation industry workers can be exposed to several toxic chemicals. 

Airplanes emit air pollutants that include benzene, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, toluene, volatile organic compounds, and carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Chemicals used to de-ice airplanes in the winter include propylene glycol and ethylene glycol which may run into and contaminate local waterways. 

Aviation employees who work in airplane ground service and maintenance can be exposed to gasoline, jet fuel, solvents, glues, degreasers, and coatings which may contain toxic chemicals. 

Flight crews may be exposed to pesticides if pesticide spraying is required in the airplane before it takes off. International flights are more likely to require pesticide spraying to prevent spreading plant diseases and pests from one region to another. They may also be exposed to water pollutants if the drinking water aboard the airplanes fails to meet federal standards.

Web Links from MedlinePlus (National Library of Medicine)
Motion Sickness
Traveler's Health

More Links
Aircraft (Environmental Protection Agency)
Aircraft Contrails (Environmental Protection Agency) PDF Icon
Aircraft Mechanics. Haz-Map (National Library of Medicine)
Aircrew Health and Safety (Federal Aviation Administration)
Airline Industry (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
Airline Water Supplies (Environmental Protection Agency)
Aviation Worker Health (Association of Flight Attendants)
Cosmic Radiation During Flights (Environmental Protection Agency)
Ergonomics: Baggage Handling eTool (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
Managing Aircraft and Airfield Deicing - Contamination of Drinking Water (Environmental Protection Agency) PDF Icon
Passenger Health and Safety (Federal Aviation Administration)

Chemicals in Aviation
Are these chemicals in MY environment?
Carbon Dioxide
Carbon Monoxide
Ethylene Glycol
Nitrogen Oxides
Particulate Matter
Sulfur Dioxide
Volatile Organic Compounds

Last Updated: October 22, 2008

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