Hundreds of American flight attendants say their new uniforms are causing their hair to fall out.
The Alaska Airlines staff have complained that the outfits, which may be contaminated with a toxic chemical, have also caused itching, rashes and other unpleasant reactions.
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 said: “I’ve never had a uniform like this. I broke out this week. I broke out on my back first, then on my legs.”
Union leaders representing Alaska Airlines employees have written a letter to the company’s president demanding that the uniforms are changed.
It is thought that the smart navy blue suits may be contaminated with the chemical tributyl phosphate, a toxic substance used in synthetic textile manufacturing.
Andy Schneider, Alaska Airlines vice president of inflight services, said in a statement that various tests had been carried out on the uniforms in three different laboratories but 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.”
He also said that all staff irritated by the uniforms were given two alternative choices to wear.
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”.