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    Using the grey literature to better understand the potential health impacts of cabin air quality

    Balouet, Jean-Christophe, Delahaye, Jean-Christophe, Mulder, Michel FA, Dack, Sarah and Megson, David ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8881-3860 (2023) Using the grey literature to better understand the potential health impacts of cabin air quality. Journal of Environmental Exposure Assessment, 2 (11). pp. 1-16. ISSN 2771-5949

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    Abstract

    This paper presents an extensive database of 450 chemicals reported in the grey literature (technical reports and documents) in association with the aircraft cabin environment. 72% (325 chemicals) of these exhibited toxic properties. The most affected target organs were skin (302 chemicals), eyes (294 chemicals), respiratory system (234 chemicals), and central nervous system (94 chemicals). The database includes available occupational exposure limits for a wide range of these pollutants (118). Results from technical reports on pollutant levels in aircraft were compared against their threshold health-based screening values. When performing a human health risk assessment on a chemical-by-chemical basis, there were no exceedances of average concentrations against workplace exposure limits. However, there were exceedances in maximum reported concentrations for ozone and acrolein. When chemical exposure was assessed additively for chemicals affecting the same target organs, the average concentrations did not exceed workplace limits. However, there were exceedances for maximum concentrations for compounds that targeted the eyes, skin, cardiovascular system, blood, and respiratory system. When performing a conservative additive risk assessment of endocrine disruptors (and potential endocrine disruptors), exceedances were observed when compared with no observed adverse effect levels (NOAEL) and workplace exposure thresholds established for confirmed endocrine disruption. Our results indicate that no single chemical is responsible for the adverse health effects reported by aircrew and instead point towards a combination of chemicals and additional factors. This work stresses the need for more comprehensive assessments that are coupled with epidemiological studies and risk assessments that consider exposure to multiple pollutants and specificities of the environment inside aircraft.

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