Bicameral legislation introduced in the US Congress would protect against inflight toxic fumes by mandating installation of carbon monoxide detectors in aircrafts’ supply systems and establishing training and reporting requirements to help pilots crew members identify air contamination events in the cabin.

“All Americans have the right to expect safe, clean air when traveling or reporting to work. I am deeply concerned by the documented cases where pilots, flight attendants and other airline crewmembers have become sick and even hospitalized from toxic cabin air,” said Rep. Garamendi (D-California), a senior member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and a co-sponsor of the legislation.

Toxic fume events can occur when air contaminated by engine exhaust, fuel fumes, de-icing fluids and ozone flows through the jet engine intake and into the aircraft cabin. Passengers exposed to low levels of these fumes can become incapacitated, and long-term exposure could lead to “serious, debilitating health issues,” according to the bill’s co-sponsors.

“Our bill would require the FAA and aircraft manufacturers to stop ignoring this horrific issue—mandating thorough investigation of dangerous cabin air quality reports, proper training and resources for pilots and flight attendants and the installation of carbon monoxide sensors on commercial flights,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), a senior member on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and a co-sponsor of the legislation.

The bill directs airlines and manufacturers to install and operate carbon monoxide detectors in aircrafts’ air supply systems, which would allow pilots and technicians to locate the sources of any potential air supply contamination. Manufacturers of commercial aircraft would also be required to develop procedures to inform crew on how to respond to the alarms.

Under the proposed legislation, pilots, crew, aircraft technicians and first responders would also be required to undergo training on identifying and responding to toxic fumes. That training would consist of educational materials related to sources and types of fumes, odor and visual descriptors for identification and procedures for recognizing and responding to toxic fume events.

The FAA would also be required to develop a standardized system for airline crew to record and report toxic fumes, which the agency would publish in quarterly reports online for public review. The reporting system would include information related to the nature and source of any smoke or fire, the location of the fumes and information about the engine and symptoms reported by passengers, among other details.

The legislation has been endorsed by the Air Line Pilots Association, Association of Flight Attendants, Allied Pilots Association, Association of Professional Flight Attendants, International Union of Teamsters, National Consumers League, Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association and the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers.

Ben Goldstein,