American Airlines pilots being sickened by toxic chemicals in uniforms
04/26/2017 // Rhonda Johansson // Views

Here we go again. Late last year, thousands of American Airlines employees said that the carrier’s new uniform caused a series of allergic reactions including eye swelling, rashes, skin blistering, and even vertigo. American repeatedly assured their employees that their new uniforms were safe and have since then distributed the uniforms to around 70,000 frontline employees. Now, 100 pilots are saying that their uniforms are making them ill. In an article on, American says they will survey these affected pilots and release an official statement soon.

These new reports have angered various unions who say that American is not taking these health concerns seriously. Bob Ross, President of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, filed an official grievance against the company. In it, Ross requested the company to recall all uniforms, grant sick leaves to affected flight attendants, reimburse them for the costs these allergic reactions have incurred, and establish a $2 million fund to really find out what the issue with these new outfits is. “These uniforms continue to put our members at risk, forcing them to use sick leave and affecting their overall health,” Ross wrote, as reported on A spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association declared that, “[Pilots] have to be fit for duty. If the uniform is making them not fit for duty, then something has to change.”

"Commercial garments are very frequently treated with extremely hazardous, neurotoxic chemicals," warns Mike Adams, the "Health Ranger" and lab science director of CWC Labs, which tests for toxic chemicals using mass spec instrumentation. "If a pilot wants to send us a sample of the garment, we could easily identify the toxic chemical in question. Many garment chemicals are released from sweat, after which they are absorbed through the skin and into the blood stream," Adams adds.


American’s response

The survey will advise the company on their next steps. “Whatever they find in their survey, we’re happy to meet and discuss it with them,” said Ron Defeo, an American Airlines spokesperson. “We’ve shown we’re willing to work and find solutions. We’d do the same with pilots.” Defeo added the carrier is working closely with Twin Hill, a unit of Tailored Brands, Inc., who supplied the new uniforms. So far, neither American or Twin Hill have found any safety issues with their new uniform. “We are confident our uniforms are safe, and we continue to encourage any of our team members who suspect a reaction to the uniform to contact their manager.”

In its first major uniform change in 30 years, American intended the new look to signify their relevance and reintroduction to the modern airline industry. The new uniforms, now slate gray instead of old navy blue, could be mixed and matched with cobalt blue cardigans or gray jackets and Cole Haan ties and scarves that were red and blue. American and Twin Hill designed the outfits to be comfortable and durable. In announcing the new uniform in September, Tailored Brands said in their press release that “the attire offers great style and design, high-quality performance and functionality that can take the rigors of the job.” Immediately after its release though, hundreds of American Airline flight attendants began complaining of allergic reactions

This isn’t the first time Twin Hill has been suspected of questionable quality. The company was issued a class action lawsuit several years ago on behalf of several Alaska Airlines flight attendants who fell ill because of their uniforms. Even though a judge ruled in favor of Twin Hill, Alaska decided to replace the uniforms. Still, representatives of Twin Hill insist there is nothing wrong with the American Airlines uniforms. “The safety and comfort of our uniforms has, and will always be, our highest priority. Extensive testing conducted by independent labs on the American Airlines uniforms has raised no safety concerns,” the company told

In the meantime, American has given their employees the option to wear their old uniforms, replace the uniform pieces that were bothering them, or use their alternate supplier, Aramark. The company says they have no plans to recall their uniforms.

Hazards can be found everywhere. From the food you eat to the clothes you wear. Be more informed when you visit

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