The unprecedented letter will ask the chief coroner to warn all coroners in England and Wales that, in cases where the cause of death is suspected to be related to toxic cabin on an aircraft, additional tests need to be undertaken. This important step provides recognition of the clinical impact that exposure to toxic cabin air has on the body.

It comes after a verdict of ‘death by misadventure,’ by the senior coroner of Berkshire, in relation to Matthew Bass, a British Airways’ cabin crew member.

The family of Mr Bass, who was a member of Unite, are being supported by the union, which is leading the call for a public inquiry into the consequences of toxic cabin air.

Howard Beckett, Unite assistant general secretary, 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.”

"We support the call by Unite for a public inquiry to fully uncover the nature of the risk that toxic cabin air poses and to prevent further individuals being harmed."

David Robinson
Senior Serious Injury Solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors

David Robinson, senior serious injury solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “We are proud to have worked alongside Unite to support the family of Matthew Bass to understand the symptoms he had been suffering prior to his death.

“Our team of serious injury solicitors have vast experience in leading complex litigation such as for those exposed to toxic cabin air, and we believe it is vital that this matter is taken seriously and addressed by the airline industry without delay.

“We support the call by Unite for a public inquiry to fully uncover the nature of the risk that toxic cabin air poses and to prevent further individuals being harmed.”