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Once in a while our readers send us a real medical mystery. Recently a reader in Australia queried (paraphrasing here because the search engines don't let us quote directly without penalizing our pages):
"I was exposed to jet engine emissions every 30 minutes for 2 months, mostly from 2-engine jet planes and the occasional jumbo jet. One day we were exposed to a direct blast of jet engine fumes for a full 10 minutes before we were able to leave our work area.
Everyone where I work has breathing problems. We have severe skin irritation in the form of pimple-like sores and eye irritation. We all have "clicking" in the neck. I'm the only member of our crew who has been able to stand the pain of lying still long enough to get an MRI, and I've been diagnosed with deterioration of the bone in my cervical spine (the neck bones)."
The reader goes on to report that he was exposed to brush fire smoke and ash, and that no experts in Australia care to comment on his situation.
We can't give medical advice or expert opinion, because we don't practice medicine through this site and we're not on the ground in Australia. But we do have a great deal of information about the toxic effects of jet fuel that may help you understand what is going on in your particular case.
Jet Fuel Is a Well-Known and Highly Toxic Immunomodulator
It isn't exactly news to the scientific community that jet fuel exposure causes a wide range of health problems. There are not just one or two but, at the time this article is being written, 217 published studies of the medical effects of exposure to "jet propulsion fuel" or "JP-8" in the mainstream medical literature.
The problems caused by jet fuel exposure are particularly acute for people who work on the tarmac where jet engines are running. The problems caused by this toxin are mediated by the immune system itself, specifically through the action of a group of white blood cells called mast cells. These cells carry microscopic packets of histamine, the chemical that causes the burning, irritation, and inflammation associated with allergies. Exposure to ultraviolet light of the sun draws mast cells out of the bloodstream and into the skin.
Jet Fuel Also Finds Its Way into Lungs and Bone
Jet fuel also finds its way into the lungs. This is true of both the older jet fuel, JP-8, and the newer synthetic jet fuel, S-8. Once it gets into the lungs, it coats the alveoli, the sacs that collect air. This coating makes it harder for the alveoli to contract as the lungs push air out to remove carbon dioxide.
And jet fuel also affects bone marrow.
If there isn't further exposure to jet fuel vapors, the bone marrow can begin to heal itself in about 24 hours. But if there is repeated exposure to jet fuel, the damage to bone marrow becomes cumulative and permanent.