When a Delta Airlines plane dumped jet fuel over several Los Angeles County schools in preparation for an emergency landing, among the issues raised was the risks to the children and teachers hit by the fuel. While some studies have been done regarding the dangers of exposure to jet propulsion fuel, it can be difficult to prove how much exposure is required before a person suffers lasting harm.
Toxicology research has been conducted on military jet propellants JP-5 and JP-8, and on Jet A, a propellant generally used in civilian aircraft. The fuels are made from hydrocarbons but may also contain various additives such as antioxidants and additives to prevent icing in the fuel lines. This makes it hard to assess risk even among samples of the same type of fuel. Compounding the difficulty is that limited research has been done on humans, and individuals can be harmed by fuel through inhalation, oral ingestion, and dermal exposure, which may cause different health effects.
Human studies have found evidence of neurologic effects including headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, in coordination, irritability, problems with attention and memory, narcosis (stupor or unconsciousness), and gait disturbances from acute exposure to JP-8. In addition, acute- and intermediate-duration exposure to JP-8 followed by exposure to noise has resulted in hearing damage from alterations in the peripheral auditory system and the central auditory processing area. Animal studies have further indicated possible respiratory, hepatic, dermal, and immunological effects as well as developmental toxicity. Even accepting that harm can occur generally, the research shows that there are many factors that may affect the level of harm, including, the amount, duration, and route of exposure; exposure to other chemicals; and a person’s age, sex, diet, family traits, lifestyle, and state of health.
Notwithstanding the Delta fuel dump, most incidences of exposure occur with civilian and military workers who come into contact with airplanes or jet fuels. People may also be injured through contact with soil or water contaminated from a spill or leak. When individuals are harmed, they may file for disability and/or bring a lawsuit to obtain compensation. Expert witnesses are essential in proving causation and damages because of the above-mentioned issues involved in evaluating exposure to jet fuels.
Expert witnesses in Toxicology, Occupational and Environmental Medicine (OEM), and Pulmonology can provide invaluable testimony regarding the dangers of exposure as well as how the claimant’s unique circumstances may affect liability. Toxicologists deal with the treatment of poisoning, drug overdose, and exposure to toxins or biological agents. OEM specialists focus on the diagnosis and treatment of work-related illness, injury, and toxic exposures. Pulmonologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the respiratory tract including the trachea, bronchial tree, and lungs. Other types of experts may also be needed depending on the nature of the injury caused by the exposure.
If you are involved in a claim arising out of exposure to jet fuel, contact Elite Medical Experts for assistance in finding nationally recognized university expert witnesses for your case.