Coroner’s toxic cabin air warning should be catalyst for public inquiry, says Unite

The senior coroner in the inquest into the death of Matthew Bass, the much loved member of Unite and British Airways’ cabin crew, has taken the significant step of agreeing to write to the chief coroner asking him to warn all coroners in England and Wales of the need for additional tests to take place where the cause of death is suspected to relate to toxic cabin air on board aircraft.

The unprecedented letter of concern, which recognises that exposure to toxic cabin air does lead to a clinical impact on the body, came as the coroner recorded a verdict of ‘death by misadventure’ arising from the death of Matthew Bass. Unite, which is supporting the family of Matthew Bass, said the move by the senior coroner of Berkshire should act as a catalyst for a public inquiry into toxic cabin air.

Unite is currently taking over 100 legal cases on behalf of cabin crew who have been involved in fume events and suffered ill health from toxic cabin air.

Unite assistant general secretary for legal services, Howard Beckett, said: “This significant step by a senior coroner recognises that exposure to toxic cabin air does have an impact on the body and can lead to ill health. All coroners will now be made aware of toxic cabin air and should commit to additional testing so we can get a greater understanding of its effects on cabin crew.

“Unite currently has over 100 legal cases that we are taking on behalf of cabin crew members whose health has been affected by toxic cabin air. The senior coroner’s letter of concern should act as a catalyst for a public inquiry into an issue the airline industry has consistently tried to brush under the carpet.

“Toxic cabin air is real and is damaging lives. The airline industry needs to face up to its responsibilities and deal with it.   “On behalf of Unite, I would like to thank the perseverance of the Bass family who, after four years, finally have a formally recorded explanation for Matthew’s death.

“If it had not been for their dignified determination we would not have established that Matthew had been exposed to organophosphates and secured the warning from the senior coroner on toxic cabin air. “I’d also like to thank Thompsons and the counsel who assisted with this case.”