Under normal circumstances, we don’t give the air we breathe onboard the aircraft a second thought. As we’re all taught in initial training, cabin air is bleed air that is taken in through the aircraft engines then cooled and pressurized to make it usable. As with any piece of mechanical equipment, there’s always a possibility of malfunction. As a part of the engines, a malfunction in the cabin air system has the possibility of introducing oil, hydraulic fluid, or other materials into the cabin.
What to do if You Think You’ve Been Exposed to Contaminated Air
Being prepared and knowing what to do in the event of an air quality exposure incident can help you and your crew to the help you need as quickly as possible. Here’s what to do:
1. Identify the Situation
If you encounter unusual fumes (odors), smoke, or haze:
- Quickly rule out in-cabin items (e.g. burning food, oven residue, etc.)
- Report the situation to the pilots immediately. If the source is the air from the vents in the cabin, there is the possibility of oil/hydraulic fluid contamination.
- If no passengers are on board, step off the aircraft, especially if maintenance boards to test systems
- Avoid breathing fumes coming from vents
2. Get Help if Sick
- If in the air, notify the pilots to call MedLink
- If still at the gate, ask the CSA to call paramedics. Deplane if possible.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Most tests that detect exposure are time sensitive; even a few hours can make a difference. Your symptoms can persist, worsen, or return after another incident.
- Call AFA for help
- Print and begin completing the AFA exposure checklist
- Review the AFA International Air Quality website
3. Report & Document
- File an I-21 (employee injury report) and ASAP report with the company
- Keep printed copies of each report for your records
- Send a copy of the completed I-21 form to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ask supervisor to complete their Alaska Airlines air quality checklist with you
- If sick, file a worker’s compensation claim and see a doctor as quickly as possible. Claims do not start until you see a doctor.
- Keep a symptom diary and document everything with a doctor
Keep This Information With You In Case You Need it
New air quality exposure quick reference cards have been printed and will soon be available in your base. These cards replace all old versions of the air quality cards (gold or blue lanyard cards or old black and white folded paper card). When you pick up your new card, please discard any old cards that you have and replace them with the new one. This card fold up to the size of a credit card and will fit easily inside a plastic badge holder or in your purse or wallet. On the card, you’ll find information that you’ll need in the event of an air quality exposure incident as well as links to online AFA resources and contact information for AFA representatives who can assist you.
Print Your Own Quick Reference Card
You can download and print a quick reference card at any time by clicking this link.
Find it on the AFA Alaska Website
This information is also available on a dedicated page of the AFA Alaska website at: http://afaalaska.org/ashsc/airquality/checklist.
From the AFA Alaska mobile website or web app, a quick link is located on the main page of the site. For instructions on how to save the AFA Alaska web app as a desktop icon on your IMD or personal Apple device, click here.
If you have questions, please contact your Local Air Safety, Health, and Security (ASHSC) Committee.
Your MEC – Jeffrey Peterson, Brian Palmer, Yvette Gesch, Lisa Pinkston, Laura Masserant, Cathy Gwynn, Sandra Morrow, Stephen Couckuyt, Air Quality Chairperson Karyn Kobe and MEC ASHSC Chairperson Seth Heiple