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Daily News Archive

Airline Passengers and Crew Have A Right to Freedom From Pesticides
Sign Petition Today!

(Beyond Pesticides, March 2, 2004) The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) recently launched an online petition to generate signatures in order to show the airlines and the Department of Transportation (DOT) that airline passengers and crew do not want to be sprayed with pesticides during a flight, and that passengers would choose to fly with an airline that does not spray over one that does.

The Association of Flight Attendants’ Air Safety, Health and Security Department (ASHSD) points out that “pesticide application in the occupied or soon-to-be occupied aircraft cabin and cockpit can be a serious health hazard for crewmembers and passengers. Pesticide exposure can be significant and some crewmembers must work in the sprayed environment regularly and repeatedly. Approximately 50 countries require pesticide spraying on all or selected flights, apparently to prevent the importation of insects that either carry tropical disease or damage plant/animal health. The cabin may also be pre-treated in a country that does not require pesticide spraying. There are no requirements to inform either crewmembers or passengers prior to ticket purchase or flight.”

AFA reports that the pesticides commonly sprayed within aircraft cabins are the synthetic pyrethroids permethrin and d-phenothrin, as well as solvents, and in some cases, propellants. Reported symptoms include acute respiratory and sinus problems, rash/hives, headache, and anaphylactic shock, as well as chronic immune, respiratory, and neurological problems.

AFA advocates the use of non-chemical means of disinsection such as the air curtain technology being tested at a US Department of Agriculture lab in Florida, under the direction of the Department of Transportation. AFA applauded American Airlines when they volunteered to participate in on-aircraft testing of these air curtains in early 2004. More information regarding air curtain technology is available from Beyond Pesticides’ Daily News story Department of Transportation Begins Study of Alternative to Pesticides on Airplanes.

Judith Murawski, an industrial hygienist with AFA, is speaking on this controversial issue at the 22nd National Pesticide Forum, Unite for Change: New Approaches to Pesticides and Environmental Health, which will be held April 2-4, 2004 at the University of California, Berkeley. Register for the forum online, or contact Beyond Pesticides for more information.

TAKE ACTION: Show the airlines and the Department of Transportation that passengers and crew do not want to be sprayed with pesticides during a flight, and that passengers would choose to fly with an airline that does not spray over one that does. Go to http://thiscause.org/p/menu.php?p=AFL_CIO34967, and then click on "sign petition."