[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Representative John Garamendi (D-CA) introduced the bicameral, bipartisan Cabin Air Safety Act to protect commercial airline passengers and crew from toxic cabin air. Air in aircraft cabins can become contaminated by engine exhaust, fuel fumes, de-icing fluids, and ozone entering the cabin through the jet engine intake, creating “toxic fume” events. As revealed in troubling reports, passenger and crew exposure to even low levels of these contaminants can lead to incapacitation and long-term exposure can lead to serious, debilitating health issues. The COVID-19 pandemic also underscored the need for cabin air free from potentially virulent pathogens.
“This measure will protect the flying public and crew from toxic airplane air,” said Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. “Cabin air can become dangerously contaminated with noxious substances, but the FAA and aircraft manufacturers are ignoring this health hazard even after concerning reports of flight crews becoming sick as a result. Our bill would mandate thorough investigation of cabin air quality reports, proper training and resources for airline crew, and installation of air quality monitoring equipment and detectors on commercial flights to ensure the public and crewmembers are protected from these harmful fumes, smoke, or other contaminants.”
“All Americans have the right to expect safe, clean air when travelling or reporting to work. I am deeply concerned by the documented cases where pilots, flight attendants, and passengers have become sick and even hospitalized from toxic cabin air,” said Garamendi, a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. “The Cabin Air Safety Act takes commonsense steps to protect airline passengers and crew, including installing carbon monoxide detectors in commercial aircraft. I look forward to working with Senator Blumenthal to advance this critical legislation.”
In the Senate, the Cabin Air Safety Act is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). In the House, the bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Representatives Brian K. Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Kaiali’I Kahele (D-HI), and Don Bacon (R-NE).
“Airline passengers and crew should not need to risk their health in order to fly,” said Markey. “This bill establishes common-sense, science-based rules to protect airline passengers and crew from toxic fumes and airborne contaminants. Flight attendants, pilots, and other airline crewmembers have been on the front lines of the pandemic. We must repay their commitment to ensuring safe air travel for all Americans by protecting their health.”
“Pilots, flight attendants and passengers should never have to worry about toxic fumes filling an aircraft cabin midflight,” said Feinstein. “Unfortunately, this happens hundreds of times a year and in some cases requires passengers to seek medical attention. I’m proud to join Senator Blumenthal in introducing this bill to help protect everyone aboard aircraft from unnecessary exposure to toxic fumes and to help ensure flights are safe.”
The Cabin Air Safety Act would better protect airline passengers and crew members by:
- Mandating Training Regarding Toxic Smoke or Fumes on Aircraft: Require that flight attendants, pilots, aircraft technicians, and first responders receive training on identifying toxic smoke and fumes. The training materials will include education on sources and types of fumes, symptoms, appropriate responses, and how to report incidents.
- Requiring FAA to Record and Monitor Reports of Smoke or Fume Events: Directs the FAA to develop a standardized form/system to record airline crew reports of toxic smoke or fumes. The FAA is required to publish these reports at least quarterly on a public website, so that they can be searched, reviewed, and analyzed.
- Ensuring Investigations Occur: Authorizes the FAA to conduct investigations, in cooperation with the airlines and labor unions, after a toxic smoke or fume event to study the cause and prevent future events, and requires the FAA to conduct such investigations if anybody required medical attention.
- Installing Air Quality Monitoring Equipment and Detectors: Directs air carriers to install and operate onboard detectors and other air quality monitoring equipment situated in the air supply system to best enable pilots and maintenance technicians to locate the sources of air supply contamination. These detectors will alert the crew to poor air quality that is dangerous to human health. Aircraft manufacturers must develop procedures that inform the crew on how to respond to alarms. The FAA is also authorized to establish standards for aircraft cabin air quality.
The Cabin Air Safety Act is endorsed by the Air Line Pilots Association International, Association of Flight Attendants, Allied Pilots Association, Association of Professional Flight Attendants, National Consumers League, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Transport Workers Union of America, American Association for Justice, American Lung Association, International Union of Teamsters, and Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association.
The text of the Senate version of the legislation is available here. The House introduced an identical version of the bill.
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