A study carried out by researchers in Germany suggests that toxins found in cabin air are passed onto flight attendants and passengers, after dangerous chemicals were found in a group of patients.

A team of researchers from the University of Göttingen in Germany tested 140 patients, many of whom were cabin crew, and found organophosphates and volatile organic compounds in their blood and urine samples.

The study suggests that these compounds may have been leaked into the cabin air supply from engine fuel, oils or antifreeze. Organophosphate compounds cause symptoms such as nausea and light-headedness and can attack the nervous system, circulation and airways.

Concerns about the dangerous effects of contaminated cabin air, and the associated health effects, also known as ‘aerotoxic syndrome’, were raised last month when a flight from London to Los Angeles was grounded after it was reported a crew member fainted and passengers felt unwell.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) say that ‘fume events’ are rare and cabin air is safe.

David Robinson of Thompsons Solicitors said: “These latest findings support long-term concerns over aerotoxic syndrome and underline the serious health risks associated with contaminated cabin air.

“As it stands, there are no official guidelines on what is a ‘safe’ level of exposure for cabin staff and passengers, despite growing concerns around aerotoxic syndrome.

“The passenger airline industry must acknowledge the findings of this latest research and a thorough investigation is urgently needed to establish how cabin crew, pilots and passengers can be better protected from the risks of exposure to contaminated cabin air.”