Common chemical can slow the brain
Here's a comforting thought for anyone about to fly: Your pilot could have the slowed reflexes and response times of a drunk... without touching a drop of booze.
And if he should run into trouble in the cockpit because of it, the one person who can help bail him out -- the air traffic controller -- could be suffering from the same delayed reactions.
He hasn't been drinking either -- but both the air traffic controller and the pilot are exposed to organophosphates, a brain-slowing chemical used in aircraft engine oil.
It doesn't make you stagger like a drunk, lose your intelligence, or slur your speech, so there are no obvious and immediate warning signs when its effects kick in.
But a new analysis of 14 studies confirms that constant exposure to even low levels of these chemicals can harm memory, slow the mind, and limit the ability to process information.
Yes, exactly -- the three skills pilots likely rely on most.
They're not the only ones at risk. Farmers have an even higher level of exposure, since organophosphates are a common ingredient in pesticides. And for them, the brain-slowing effects are noticeable -- especially in situations like a sheep auction, where they need to think and react quickly.
But all he might lose is a great deal on a prize sheep. A pilot, on the other hand, could lose his life -- and yours, if you're unlucky enough to be a passenger on his flight.
Avoid using any products with these chemicals in them in your home or garden. And if you happen to work in one of these industries yourself you should take steps to limit your exposure.
For more information on organophosphates visit the Environmental Working Group. And while you're there you can learn how to join the EWG in their continued fight to reduce the use of these and other highly toxic chemicals.
Lives are at stake here.