5 Apr 2009

Civil Aviation Authority failing to protect crews and passengers re cabin air qualit

Here is a story that I think should get wider coverage and an issue Greens have been working on in Europe as well as here. A year ago the Global Cabin Air Quality Executive (GCAQE) called for a public inquiry to examine why the Labour government has allowed airline crews and passengers to be exposed to air contaminated with engine oils when flying. The Greens, the Conservatives and the LibDems supported the call, but the government refused to hold a public inquiry despite its acknowledgment that oil fumes are reported on one in every hundred flights.

Still the government has not taken any action to prevent passengers and crews from being exposed to toxic chemicals in passenger aircraft or to ensure that passengers are informed when such exposures have occurred. So last month the GCAQE has renewed its call for an independent public inquiry to investigate the government's continued failure to protect the travelling public.

Head of Research for the Global Cabin Air Quality Executive, former airline pilot and PhD researcher, Captain Susan Michaelis, commented: "The present air monitoring investigations being undertaken on behalf of the Department for Transport are seriously flawed. They fail to utilize data from international experts and appear designed to protect the airline industry rather than the health and safety of the travelling public and working crews. The German Broadcaster WDR has undertaken swab tests on 30 European passenger aircraft of which 28 positively identified the presence of the neurotoxic and immunotoxic organophosphate chemical, Tricresyl Phosphate (TCP). TCP is present in most commercial jet engine oils. This study replicated swab tests taken in the UK, Europe, Australia and the US which also proved passengers and crews are definitely being exposed to engine oil pyrolysis products in the aircraft cabins."

"The term 'Aerotoxic Syndrome' should be accepted by the UK Government rather than continuing to deny the problem exists. With a growing number of crews dying and becoming ill with brain tumours and other serious neurological illnesses, why does the Government refuse to agree to an independent epidemiological survey of crews? The need for a proper epidemiological survey has again been supported by the recently published paper by M.Hale and J.Al-Seffar in the Journal of the Association of Neurophysiological Scientists.

"We applaud the decision taken this week by the 'Aerotoxic Association' and the Non Profit Group 'Toxic Free Airlines' to send every MP and Lord a copy of the investigative documentary film 'Welcome Aboard Toxic Airlines.' This will ensure everyone knows exactly what is going on. The airline industry funded Civil Aviation Authority has negligently failed to protect the travelling public. There is overwhelming evidence to show that exposure to contaminated cabin air is causing unacceptable risks to health and flight safety and the precautionary principle should be applied. Solutions to resolve this problem such as installing filtration technologies or developing non toxic oils exist and they know it.

"Airlines continue to preside over a global scandal. Not only are they supplying the travelling public with unfiltered engine air to breathe, known for decades to sometimes become contaminated with toxic chemicals but they don't tell the public there is a risk of exposure when flying or when they have been exposed. This has to be a breach of their human rights. No commercial airliner has any form of detection system fitted to warn when the air is contaminated. This is a serious risk to flight safety. The travelling public deserve to be better protected."

As well as the Greens, the campaign is also supported by Teresa Villiers MP and Norman Baker MP, the Conservative and LibDem shadow transport secretaries. See more here.

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