Aviation: Exhaust Emissions

Transport written question – answered on 9th July 2014.

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Photo of Fabian Hamilton Fabian Hamilton Labour, Leeds North East

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport

(1) what records are kept of the concentrations of identified toxic chemicals in a fume event in each of the principal classes of civil aviation airliners operating within the UK; and if he will make a statement;

(2) whether any UK agencies or Departments conduct or have conducted research into the long-term consequences of repeated exposure of air crews to low levels of toxic fumes within civil aviation aircraft; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what discussions he or Ministers in his Department have had with (a) airlines and (b) organisations about fume events in UK airlines; and if he will take steps to improve the monitoring of the air quality in UK airliners;

(4) how many fume events were recorded in (a) UK civil aviation aircraft and (b) other aircraft using UK airports operating within the UK in the last 12 months; and which agency is responsible for recording these events.

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

In the period 1 June 2013 to 31 May 2014, from over a million passenger and cargo flights the Civil Aviation Authority received 309 reports of 'contaminated air' from UK operators under the Mandatory Occurrence Reporting Scheme. Incidents involving non-UK operators would be reported to the relevant national authority and we do not have data on the number of occurrences involving non-UK operators.

The majority of incidents of contaminated air are brief, lasting for periods of a few seconds to a few minutes. No records of chemical concentrations are kept as there is no equipment currently available which could be installed on aircraft and capture this information.

The Department has completed four research studies into cabin air, which involved close cooperation with airlines to facilitate the research. The main study was published by Cranfield university in May 2011, and concluded there was no evidence for pollutants occurring in cabin air at levels exceeding available health and safety standards and guidelines.

The Department has also engaged with the Committee on Toxicity, which considered the Department’s four published reports during 2013. The Committee concluded that there is no evidence that fume events are causing ill health in passengers or crew and, as a result, there are no plans to change the monitoring of air quality in UK carriers.

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