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Thu, Dec 25, 2008

De-Icer Fumes Enter Cabin Of Alaska Airlines 737

Twenty-Five Passengers And Crew Treated For Minor Discomfort

Seven crewmembers onboard an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-800 were taken to the hospital Wednesday, when fumes from the de-icing liquid being sprayed on the snow-covered airliner entered the cabin.

CNN reports the seven were treated for relatively minor issues including eye irritation, dizziness and nausea. Eighteen passengers were also treated at the scene, according to officials with Sea-Tac International Airport.

Flight 528 to Burbank, CA was being sprayed down with propylene glycol de-icing fluid when passengers started complaining of eye irritation, and difficulties breathing due to the fumes. A number of emergency vehicles responded to the scene, though some passengers complained of being held onboard the plane for as long as 45 minutes until they were finally allowed off.

Propylene glycol has largely replaced ethylene glycol as the base for aircraft de-icing solution, due to the toxic properties of the latter. Generally consider safe in small doses -- propylene glycol is used in a variety of products, including food, cosmetics, and medicines -- large concentrations of the agent may still cause discomfort.

As a rule, flight crews typically shut off the aircraft's auxiliary power unit and the heating and cooling packs to prevent fumes from entering the cabin during deice operations. Ground crews avoid spraying de-icer fluid near air inlet vents.

Initial reports of two people being in critical condition after being overcome by the fumes were erroneous, said Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Caroline Boren. All 143 passengers ticketed on Flight 528 were later flown to Burbank on another plane.



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