Posts on social media make the claim that Poland, Sweden and Norway “are suing” the World Health Organization (WHO) for “infecting Europe” with “chemical pneumonia” released from airplanes. Some iterations include the claim that Reuters reported on this alleged lawsuit. These claims are false: Reuters did not report this or anything similar, nor did any other media organization. Posts feature falsely labeled photographs of aircrafts, some which have been previously used to illustrate the “chemtrails” debunked conspiracy theory.
According to the earliest iterations Reuters could find, the claim appears to first have been written in Bulgarian in December 2020. Facebook posts with over 100,000 shares each can be seen here and here .
The posts, translated from Bulgarian, say: “Extraordinary! Poland, Sweden and Norway are suing the WHO for infecting Europe. This was reported by Reuters. The detained pilots admitted that they sprayed with a chemical that causes chemical pneumonia!” Most are accompanied by four photos, the first being of an airplane.
Instead of claiming “This was reported by Reuters”, some posts in English say “this is what Reuters betrayed” ( here , here ), which appears to be the result of a poor translation (using the automatic Facebook translation tool).
Reuters did not report on any such lawsuit ( here ), nor did any other reputable news outlet.
To illustrate the claim, most iterations feature four photographs that were captured in different years and places and have nothing to do with government lawsuits or chemical diseases.
The photo showing an Evergreen International Airlines aircraft and a contrail (the long clouds left by jet engines) can be seen here .According to the description by JetPhotos, an aviation photo database, the image was captured on May 19, 2006 at the Sacramento McClellan Air Force Base, in California.
The aircraft, according to civil aviation database Planespotters.net here was withdrawn from use in 2012. Evergreen International Airlines, an Oregon based airline, filed for bankruptcy in December 2013 ( here ).
CARGO BARREL PHOTOS
Another image featured in these claims shows a man inside a plane, surrounded by gray tanks. It is visible on Getty Images here .
According to its description, the image, dated Sept. 6, 2009, shows the interior of a test aircraft MSN1, an Airbus A380 Superjumbo jet, “filled with test equipment and miles of cable” in Bristol’s Filton Airport in the United Kingdom. Another photo of the aircraft’s interior can be seen here .
The tanks that can be seen in this image are ballast barrels which, as reported by Wired here , are tanks filled with water that are used to simulate the weight of cargo or passengers. Images by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer provide a closer look on the tanks of an Airbus A380 here .
The posts also feature another image of ballast barrels inside the test cabin of an Airbus A380 originally visible here . The was image was captured at Wittman Regional Airport in Wisconsin on July 31, 2009.
Reuters could not definitely confirm the source of the fourth photo, which shows four green bigger tanks, but the image has been circulating online since at least 2011 ( here ) . According to a Spanish fact check by RTVE, the photo actually shows tanks of oil-dispersing chemicals used to combat oil spills in the sea here .
The claim refers to old debunked narratives of “chemtrails” ( here , here , here ), a conspiracy theory that says “governments or other parties are engaged in a secret program to add toxic chemicals to the atmosphere from aircraft in a way that forms visible plumes in the sky” ( here ).
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the NASA explained here that “condensation trails” or “contrails” are composed primarily of water in the shape of ice particles and “do not pose health risks to humans”. Contrails might, however, contribute to “human-induced climate change”. Further reading on this is available here .
False. There is no evidence that Poland, Sweden and Norway are suing the WHO for “infecting Europe” with chemical pneumonia. Reuters did not report this story, nor did any other reputable news source. Posts feature mislabeled, old photos of aircraft and barrels and refer to a debunked conspiracy theory of “chemtrails”.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.