Reprinted from NEWS.com.au

PASSENGERS on some of the world’s popular airlines are reportedly breathing in contaminated air, an investigation has revealed.

Swab samples taken by German television network, ARD, along with Swiss broadcasters Schweizer Fernsehen, reportedly found high levels of a dangerous toxin onboard several planes.

Undercover journalists took 30 swabs in total, which were later analysed by leading toxicologist Professor Christian van Netten.

Twenty-eight samples were found to contain high levels of tricresyl phosphate (TCP), found in modern jet oil, which can lead to drowsiness, headaches, respiratory problems or neurological illnesses.

Scientists refer to the condition as Aerotoxic Syndrome.

The investigations said since the air in aircraft cabins are usually not filtered, TCP can find its way through air conditioning and inhaled by cabin crew and passengers.

In February 2008, Swedish pilot Neils Gomer revealed how he was almost completely incapacitated by toxic fumes, which also left passengers in a “zombie-like condition”.

Speaking to the UK’s Daily Telegraph, Mr Gomer said he was close to vomiting before managing to put on his mask while flying at 600 miles an hour.

The pilot managed to land, but said later that if he had delayed by seconds going on to oxygen the plane would have crashed.

The paper said incidents of contaminated air on aircraft are referred to in hundreds of reports filed by pilots in recent years.

Last year,  Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority set up an independent team to investigate the possibility of dangerous toxins on passenger planes.

The Expert Panel on Aircraft Air Quality (EPAAQ) includes medical doctors and a professor of toxicology and the University of New South Wales.

“Following the ongoing debate on whether cabin air quality is an issue, we have set up a 10-man team of experts to look at all the research that has been done; any information from Australia and to review all the evidence,” CASA spokesman Peter Gibson said.

“Australia is probably one of the most pro-active countries in the world at looking into the debate.”

Mr Gibson said while many people have made claims, there has been no definitive scientific evidence to prove aircraft poisoning.

“While we haven’t heard of people getting sick regularly when they get off aircraft, we do take the claims seriously and want to know about it.

“The evidence is simply not there at this stage that aeroplanes are making people sick.”

Mr Gibson said the results from the investigation will be released in 2010