Uniform row takes off as flight attendants claim new uniforms cause illness
Airline staff in the United States say their new woolly uniforms are making them sick with rashes, itching, and headaches.
In September, American Airlines introduced new uniforms for more than 70,000 frontline staff.
Uniforms were well-received by the industry but, in December, the flight attendants' union called for a total recall, claiming nearly 2000 staff were ill with rashes, itching, headaches and sore eyes, USA Today reports.
* Flight attendants taken to hospital after American Airlines flight
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* Flight diverted to Vancouver after 25 crew became unwell
Author and flight attendant Heather Poole claims she fell ill after wearing the new uniform and tweeted photos from hospital, where she was being treated with steroids.
It's in a bag that's in a tub in a basement. Marked EVIDENCE https://t.co/aBor1PIyhw— Heather Poole (@Heather_Poole) January 8, 2017
However, in a letter to the union, manufacturer Twin Hill said its uniforms were safe and some of the claims by the Association of Professional Flight Attendants were unsubstantiated.
Twin Hill senior vice president and marketing director Daryl Stilley said the company was deeply concerned and every resource was made available to investigate the claims.
Testing returned results that concluded the uniforms were safe and the company invited the union and others to a warehouse for a chemical test, but the meeting was cancelled three times by the union, Stilley said.
A union spokeswoman said 350 attendants had complained about the uniforms.
Twin Hill and American Airlines - the world's largest airline by fleet size with more than 900 aircraft - were working to provide alternative uniforms.
"American Airlines has already made our non-wool line available to individuals experiencing any sensitivity to the uniforms and we are now working on designing entirely new 100 per cent cotton garments as a third alternative," the letter said.
Bloomberg reported the manufacturer faced similar claims a few years ago, when staff at an Alaskan airline complained about new uniforms.
Allergies to wool can cause contact dermatitis.