PUBLISHED: 21:55 GMT, 4 May 2012 | UPDATED: 22:57 GMT, 4 May 2012
Alaska Air Attendants Sick, Hair Falling Out - Fukushima?
Hundreds of Alaska Airlines flight attendants say their new uniforms are making them ill.
The attendants have complained that the outfits, which may be contaminated with a toxic chemical, have caused itching, hair loss and other unpleasant reactions.
In a letter to the company’s president, union leaders representing Alaska Airlines employees demanded that the uniforms are changed.
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Itchy: One Alaska Airlines attendant showed off his rashes, which are thought to be caused by the airline's new uniforms
Painful: 280 attendants have complained about the uniforms causing itching, hair loss and other adverse side affects
The Association of Flight Attendants says that 280 flight stewards - roughly one in 10 of the total workforce - have suffered from the side effects since the new uniforms were introduced last year.
One of the flight attendants told KING5 on Thursday night, 'I’ve never had a uniform like this. I broke out this week. I broke out on my back first, then on my legs.’
The attendant said he didn’t know whether the uniform was definitely the cause of the rash but added: ‘I didn’t have it until I flew six, seven days in a row and then I started breaking out.’
It is thought that the smart navy blue suits, made by TwinHill, may be contaminated with the chemical tributyl phosphate, a toxic substance used in synthetic textile manufacturing.
Toxic: The smart navy blue suits, made by TwinHill, may be contaminated with the toxic chemical tributyl phosphate
Controversy: Union workers have sent a letter to the company's president demanding that the uniforms are replaced
An airline spokesman said that two alternative uniforms have been provided to those employees who have suffered any outbreaks.
Andy Schneider, Alaska Airlines vice president of inflight services, said in a statement to KING5 that tests on the uniforms had been carried out in three different laboratories but that the source of the problem had not been discovered.
The statement read: 'The safety of Alaska Airlines employees is paramount, and we’ve been working closely with our people and the two unions that represent them to resolve this issue.’
Last year attendants for Virgin Blue complained that their new uniforms were impractical in an emergency as the arms could not be lifted above shoulder height.
The material, made from 100 per cent polyester, also meant in the event of a fire ‘it would be like having plastic melted on to the skin’, reported the Huffington Post.