Investigation of Airline Crew Health Complaints Before and After New Uniforms
Principal Investigator: Eileen McNeely, RN,C., M.S., Ph.D.
Alaska Airlines (AA) Flight Crew reported health complaints such as skin rash, eyes, ears, nose and throat irritation, hair loss, fatigue, chemical sensitivity, and thyroid disease, after the introduction of new crew uniforms in 2011. Although approximately 800 of the 3,000 flight attendants filed health complaints, the claims were dismissed as not uniform-related by the airlines. Even so, the airlines discontinued the Chinese manufacturer for the uniforms in 2014. HSPH researchers are in a unique position to track trends in reported health complaints before, during, and after the uniform change because this population is part of our Flight Attendant Health Cohort. We have collected approximately 700 health surveys from Alaska crew on each of three occasions in 2007, 2013, and 2015. In addition, we have comparative population survey data from approximately 4,000 flight attendants from other airlines who were sampled in 2007 and again in 2014-2015. We plan to conduct a multivariate analysis of health changes inS.M the AA crew according to uniform changes and to compare rates of illness in the AA sample to the larger flight attendant sample. Further, we plan a feasibility study for the analysis of chemical compounds in archived uniform samples that accounts for work factors i.e., perspiration and UV radiation in the aircraft cabin.
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McNeely, E., Staffa, S.J., Mordukhovich, I. et al. Symptoms related to new flight attendant uniforms. BMC Public Health 17, 972 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-017-4982-4