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Occupational risk of organophosphates and other chemical and radiative exposure in the aircraft cabin: A systematic review

Hayes, Kevin and Megson, David and Doyle, Aidan and O'Sullivan, Gwen (2021) Occupational risk of organophosphates and other chemical and radiative exposure in the aircraft cabin: A systematic review. Science of The Total Environment. ISSN 0048-9697

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Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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Abstract

Occupational exposure to oil fumes, organophosphates, halogenated flame retardants, and other volatile and semi-volatile contaminants is a concern within the aviation industry. There is no current consensus on the risk attributed to exposure to these chemical classes within the aircraft cabin. Contaminant concentrations rarely exceed conventional air quality guidelines, but concerns have been raised about these guidelines' applicability within the aircraft environment. This systematic review, the largest and most comprehensive completed to date on the subject matter, aims to synthesize the existing research related to chemical and other exposures inside the aircraft cabin to determine the occupational risk that may be attributed said exposure, as well as, determine knowledge gaps in source, pathway, and receptor that may exist. The Science Direct, Scopus, and Web of Science databases were queried with five search terms generating 138 manuscripts that met acceptance criteria and screening.. Several potential areas requiring future examination were identified: Potable water on aircraft should be examined as a potential source of pollutant exposure, as should air conditioning expansion turbines. Historical exposure should also be more fully explored, and non-targeted analysis could provide valuable information to comprehend the aircraft cabin exposome. Occupational risk under typical flight scenarios appears to be limited for most healthy individuals. Contaminants of concern were demonstrated to be extant within the cabin, however the concentrations under normal circumstances do not appear to be individually responsible for the symptomologies that are present in impacted individuals. Questions remain regarding those that are more vulnerable or susceptible to exposure. Additionally, establishing the effects of chronic low dose exposure and exposure to contaminant mixtures has not been satisfied. The risk of acute exposure in mitigable fume events is substantial, and technological solutions or the replacement of compounds of concern for safer alternatives should be a priority.

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