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The Mystery Of The Illness-Inducing Airline Uniform

The untold story of the flight attendant's uniform that is causing illness


What's going on?

In 2019 alone, 5,000 American Airlines employees have reported health issues such as blisters, rashes, and even vomiting. This mysterious incident led to the employees filing a complaint that their uniforms are the cause of the illness due to the use of clothing chemicals. Surprisingly, flight attendants of Delta Airlines have also reported health issues and concerns that might be caused by their uniforms.


However, this issue has been ongoing for years despite numerous effort by the airlines to ensure the cleanliness of employee’s uniforms. Employees are still experiencing the same problem, and there is a low chance for the airlines to implement a policy change on the uniforms. As this is not a regulated area, employees would need to issue a complaint to the court to attain any form of official safety guidelines for their uniforms. The chemical surrounding this mystery is formaldehyde, a known carcinogen that makes clothes resistant towards wrinkles. Coupled with the environment within a plane, such as air pressure and temperature, it creates a chemical reaction with the fabric of the uniform.


A report by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health reveals that textile chemicals or irritant properties in these uniforms may cause skin symptoms and develop an allergic response. Although the use of formaldehyde in clothing has decreased over the years, it is being replaced with other forms of chemicals. However, no one can predict the outcome of the combination of these new chemicals in clothing. There is still a potential for the chemical reaction to induce sickness among flight attendants, and the worst-case scenario would be its spread to passengers during a flight.


Flight attendants keep getting sick. It’s likely because of their uniforms.