Call for Minister to Act on Cabin Air Quality!
LAST UPDATED 21 MARCH 2016
On Thursday 17 March 2016, the first real debate on aircraft cabin air quality was held at Westminster Hall. The subject matter received scrutiny following the excellent lobbying of the Unite Union and the Members of Parliament who have paid heed to Campaigners overall concerns. The debate discussed issues surrounding Cabin Air Quality and the health deficits (Aerotoxic Syndrome), suffered by both Aircrew and Passengers.
Concerns have been raised for a number of years about the bleed-air system used on aircraft and the escape of pyrolised chemicals coming from the engine into the aircraft environment. Whilst there is now no longer any dispute that such ‘escapes’ occur, the principle debate has coalesced around the levels of chemicals that are found and the effect that they have on human health.
This Organisation attended the debate in Westminster Hall and witnessed for the first time, a cross-party support for the issues and MP’s raised a number of points which included:
- Concern that Unite was now dealing with 61 flight-crew affected by such exposures;
- Reports coming from constituents advising of their exposure;
- One MP advised that they had reports of flight-crew donning smoke hoods during a fume event;
- One MP described the CAA (the Regulatory Body) as ‘dilatory’ in their actions;
- There widespread acceptance that flight-crew should be able to report fume event incidents without fear;
- There was universal agreement that an Independent Enquiry should be held;
- There was universal agreement that monitoring systems should be installed in aircraft;
- There was universal agreement that in dealing with this problem, the Precautionary Principle should be applied.
On this latter point, we have demonstrated the need and workability of the Precautionary Principle. In our work on the CEN TC/436 Committee (the Committee tasked with creating an European Standard on Cabin Air Quality, there is unanimous agreement that all should work in developing the standard by use of thePrecautionary Principle and that a suitable Methodology to import the Principle should be applied.
The response from the Minister of State for Transport, The Right Honourable Mr Robert Goodwill MP was both predictable as it was disappointing.
The essence of his response was that he rejected the notion that Regulatory Bodies had been ‘dilatory’ and that there were many studies that demonstrated the lack of evidence to support the notion of Aerotoxic Syndrome. The Minister went on to cite one theory as reflecting a ‘nocebo’ response, which essentially refers to a subject’s negative expectation as potentially delivering the Aerotoxic Syndrome response. Other than waiting for further studies currently being carried out by EASA, the government would simply continue to consult on the matter.
Frank Brehany, the Consumer Director for HolidayTravelWatch states:
“It was encouraging to attend a parliamentary debate when there was so much goodwill and cross-party support for a very complex matter; Unite are to be congratulated for campaigning to secure this debate. However, what was disappointing was the Ministers response. I had hoped to witness a shift in position by the UK government on this important subject matter but sadly we were treated to the same stuck needle response! I call upon the Minister to reflect upon the issues away from the pit of debate and to apply the Precautionary Principle to his own Methodology and meet with Stakeholders to devise a sensible path toward developing a clean air environment for all – we stand ready to walk alongside the Minister with that goal in mind!”
To read the full Holiday Travel Watch text click here.
To read the 26th March 2008 Conservative Party media release “Villiers: Kelly must take action on toxic cabin air” click here.
Errrrr…..why the 180 deg change of mind Ms Villiers?