Aerotoxic Syndrome, does that really exist?

Smoke in the cabin
Fume Events are sometimes accompanied by smoke in the cabin

“Aerotoxic Syndrome” is the collective term for a range of initially vague and unrelated symptoms. It’s a controversial term for an illness that has been persistently denied by the aviation industry for decades.

Unfortunately, thousands of victims worldwide now know from their own experiences how profound the consequences of Aerotoxic Syndrome can be. Recognition of these symptoms is of great importance to them!

Scientific Research

In 1999, Dr. Harry Hoffman (USA), Prof. Chris Winder (Australia), and Jean Christophe Balouet PhD (France) published an important scientific report: “Aerotoxic Syndrome: Adverse health effects following exposure to jet oil mist during commercial flights.” The report describes the harmful effects of exposure to the fumes of engine oil used in jet engines. The authors, for the first time, use the term “Aerotoxic Syndrome” to describe these symptoms in their report.


Despite what the aviation industry would like you to believe, exposure to oil fumes does indeed occur regularly. One of the main causes is oil leakage from the engines. This contamination of the air for the pressurized cabin and air conditioning leads to the presence of oil particles, including organophosphates. Organophosphates are among the most toxic compounds known to us. Chemically, they are closely related to nerve agents like Sarin. They cause severe damage to brain and nerve connections, leading to a range of (often neurological) symptoms. The symptoms of Aerotoxic Syndrome are, in fact, a direct result of poisoning with these organophosphates. Learn more about brain damage via this link.

“No evidence of a causal link…”

The aviation industry has persistently maintained for decades that there is “no evidence of a causal link” between these matters. If they were to acknowledge that, for example, oil leakage causes severe health problems, it could inevitably lead to massive damage claims. Both manufacturers and airlines are therefore highly motivated to avoid this. The comparison with the tobacco industry is apt here: in the tobacco industry, it was long known that tobacco smoke contains highly harmful substances and that inhaling these substances drastically increases the risk of lung cancer. However, it always remains challenging to legally prove that someone’s lung cancer was directly caused by smoking and not by other factors.