Last year, in Weekend Wings #7, I wrote about so-called 'Aerotoxic Syndrome', where bleed air from the engines, used to pressurize the cabin, becomes contaminated with lubricants and other substances. It appears to be a serious and growing health risk.
Now Congress appears willing to act on the threat. Flight Global reports:
Congress is processing a law that will require the US FAA to mount research and development on systems for detecting and eliminating cabin air contamination by oil-based fumes.
The research is intended to result in the provision of on-board equipment to detect contaminants in engine and auxiliary power unit bleed-air supplied to cockpits and cabins, and to filter out the contaminants.
. . .
Both the US Senate and the House of Representatives are considering the following wording for the law: "Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this act, the administrator of the FAA shall initiate research and development work on effective air cleaning and sensor technology for the engine and auxiliary power unit for bleed air supplied to the passenger cabin and flightdeck of a pressurised aircraft."
If passed, the act will also require the FAA to submit a report on the research and development programme within a year of the law's enactment.
There's more at the link.
This is encouraging, even if it's not enough. If the study shows - as I expect it will - that such contamination of cabin air is far more frequent than currently thought, it'll hopefully spur more regulation to require that incoming air be filtered and purified, to remove this health hazard.
Meanwhile, I strongly suggest that those who fly frequently aboard commercial airliners should have their overall health checked more often than those who don't, and that they should pay particular attention to known symptoms of this problem. See Weekend Wings #7 for details.