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Harvard research performs key function in go well with in opposition to airline uniform maker — Harvard Gazette

Following the introduction of recent uniforms in 2016, American Airways flight attendants started experiencing rashes, complications, and respiration issues.

One American Airways flight attendant, Tracey Silver-Charan, instructed The Washington Put up: “My eyes appeared like I used to be in a boxing match. My eyes have been swollen. I’d get bronchitis and laryngitis, and I recorded it and despatched it to the president and CEO of the corporate saying: ‘Please assist us and do one thing.’”

A jury in California just lately awarded greater than $1 million in a verdict in opposition to Twin Hill, the maker of the airline attendants’ uniforms, as a consequence of well being impacts related to the clothes. Analysis from the Harvard Flight Attendant Well being Examine performed a pivotal function within the authorized victory.

“Skilled witnesses testified concerning the Harvard uniform research on the trial, which was useful to exhibit that comparable uniforms made by the identical producer brought about comparable issues in a previous group of flight attendants,” stated the flight attendants’ lead lawyer, Daniel Balaban. “This research served as a linchpin in our epidemiological proof. It lent our case a stage of credibility, and the jury, in flip, acknowledged the research’s significance.”

The lawsuit, introduced by greater than 400 staff, included testimony that the employees skilled extreme respiratory misery, complications, hives, faintness, bronchitis, laryngitis, swelling of the eyes, fatigue, and the event of chemical sensitivities, allegedly attributable to a frequent industrial observe of including formaldehyde to stop wrinkles and improve longevity of materials.

4 of the plaintiffs have been awarded greater than $1 million in an Oct. 25 verdict. The circumstances of the opposite plaintiffs are but to be determined.

This isn’t the primary time that flight attendants have skilled in poor health well being related to uniforms. Alaska Airways attendants filed a lawsuit in 2013 in opposition to the identical producer, Twin Hill, and Delta Air Traces staff sued Lands’ Finish in 2020 for allegedly poisonous uniforms. Each lawsuits have been unsuccessful.

This time the flight attendants’ attorneys known as witnesses whose testimony included citing the 2018 Harvard research “Signs associated to new flight attendant uniforms,” which adopted 684 Alaska Airways staff earlier than and after the introduction of the Twin Hill uniforms in 2011.

The research confirmed a bounce in studies of dermatologic, respiratory, and allergic signs, most importantly itchy pores and skin and rash, itchy eyes and blurred imaginative and prescient, and sinus congestion.

That analysis was carried out as a part of the Harvard Flight Attendant Well being Examine, led by principal investigator Eileen McNeely, who launched the research in 2007 on the Harvard T.H. Chan College of Public Well being.

McNeely started the analysis, the longest-running longitudinal research of attendants working within the airplane cabin surroundings, as a result of these staff face many distinctive bodily exposures and psychosocial stressors, and the consequences are understudied.

McNeely, who can also be government director of the SHINE employee well-being program, a part of the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science, says the type of wide-angle perspective analysis brings might be invaluable in circumstances like this.

“Public well being is essential as a result of it brings a inhabitants perspective that’s typically invisible on the particular person stage. For instance, when well being issues in relation to carrying new flight attendant uniforms arose at Alaska Airways, these complaints have been dismissed as particular person issues associated to the person’s basic well being standing or well being situations. When the union collected information about employee well being complaints associated to the uniforms, the information have been judged as biased. Once we carried out the uniform research — it was already after the Alaska Airways lawsuit had been misplaced, and we wished to know what was actually happening within the inhabitants — we already had well being information for the years earlier than and after the brand new uniforms have been launched.

“This evaluation made clear that well being signs rose after the introduction of the brand new uniforms and declined when the uniforms have been discontinued. This was necessary proof for the following American Airways Twin Hill lawsuit additionally associated to well being results after the introduction of recent uniforms, notably, produced by the identical producer of the Alaska Airways uniforms after they had the issues.”

Balaban agreed. “In the end, that analysis, coupled with the work of our authorized staff, proved instrumental in holding the producer of American Airways’ uniforms accountable for the debilitating diseases suffered by the flight attendants,” he stated.

The Harvard Flight Attendant Well being Examine continues and is presently finishing its fourth wave of well being and well-being surveys.



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