Select Committee on Transport Written Evidence


Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Civil Aviation Authority

  Having seen a transcript of the evidence given by Mervyn Cranshaw of BALPA to the Transport Select Committee on 11 January I realise that, in the supplementary information we provided last week, the CM should have provided an additional note concerning research into issues to do with cabin air quality.

  At the hearing on 11 January, issues were raised concerning research, and specifically the suggestion by BALPA that the CM ignores the health and safety requirements of aircraft and cabin crew. It was also suggested by BALPA that very serious research" was being conducted by the FM in which the CM had declined to take part. I should make you aware that the CM has been taking the following steps to address this matter.

  The Aviation Health Working Group, chaired by the DfT but supported by the CAA and the CM Head of the Aviation Health Unit, has put all BALPA's data to the independent Committee on Toxicity. The purpose of that Committee's review is to ascertain whether any evidence exists to link long-term health effects with exposure to toxic chemicals in theaircraft cabin. In research findings published to date, including an investigation undertaken by the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology (2000), and CM sponsored research into fume events by Porton Down and the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (2004), no such link has been substantiated. However, the CAA's mind is not closed on the matter, which is why, supported by the DfT, this issue has been passed to the Committee on Toxicity to consider the evidence available and we await their independent report.

  As regards work in the US, the FM has funded some research but there are questions about the hypothesis being tested (the research starts from a presumption of toxic effects), the study design, and the appropriateness of undertaking secondary research before proof of causation has been demonstrated. In our view, the work being done in the UK is more likely to lead to valid conclusions on these questions than is the research so far initiated by the FM.

1 February 2006

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