Perhaps you have heard that American Airline’s new uniforms have become a hot topic. Surprisingly, it isn’t about the style. I link here to an article in the Chicago Tribune that gives a good summary of the situation. It reports that roughly 10% of the flight attendants issued the uniforms last fall claim that something in the material causes everything from: “blisters and wheezing to rashes, itchy eyes, and sore throats” as well as “fatigue and vertigo”. After reportedly spending more than $1 million on testing, the airline cannot identify a cause. My thoughts:
- The dyes and other fabric-processing chemicals used were probably tested for safety on mice, not people. People do not always react the same way rodents do.
- Testing of chemicals is typically of short duration. However, a little of something daily for a long period can have an accumulating
- The chemicals were undoubtedly tested individually, not in the mixture
- Some folks are less able to detoxify A person could already carry a significant toxic load. Or he or she might be missing key nutrients or beneficial bacteria that are required for detoxification. I believe that this individuality issue is at least one major factor in the vaccine / autism debate. I mean that sub-groups of children may well be having bad reactions, but that nuance is lost in the data which averages great numbers of vaccinations. Note: the reason canaries were used as a first warning that coal mines had become dangerous with carbon monoxide was that the birds were more sensitive than people.
- Not all people are allergic to the same things.
- Reactions like rashes and wheezing are easily recognized. And, if they happen soon after the exposure, easily linked to the culprit. However, the accumulated effect on the body’s cells and systems may cause serious chronic conditions much much later. Then the link to the chemicals will be much harder to prove, especially for folks who didn’t have the early visible reactions.
As so often is the case with exposure to low levels of toxins, the manufacturer will declare themselves innocent because the chemicals meet “government requirements”. I’m sorry, that does not ease my mind. In too many cases, such as with the glyphosate class of herbicides (e.g. Roundup®) the government evaluates only acute poisoning…not the health effect of getting a little bit each day for years on your breakfast cereal.
I wish the flight attendants good luck. They are permitted to use substitute uniforms. But, what if they are working alongside other crew in the new suspect uniforms? They may still suffer as we do with secondhand smoke.