The Government do not want anyone’s health to be at risk when travelling by air, and are leading research in this area. In 2007 we commissioned a world first research project to try to capture substances released during transient fume events. The first stage of this work was to identify and test equipment capable of sampling any potentially harmful substances in cabin air. The report into this first stage work was published by Cranfield university on 21 February after peer review. It is published on the Department's website. The next phase of work is to use the equipment identified to capture real-time fume events; this work is being developed.
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) investigations into reported incidents have resulted in measures to minimise occurrences. For example, overfilling engines with oil can result in oily fumes. The CAA has worked with aircraft operators, and with engine and aircraft manufacturers, to ensure that revised oil filling instructions are made available. Mandatory procedures have been put in place to ensure aircraft systems are examined and, where necessary, rectified and cleaned before further flight. To minimise the effects on pilots, the CAA has published advice to operators that, in the event of a suspected air contamination in the flight deck, pilots should consider the use of oxygen equipment.
The use of insecticide is required under the International Health Regulations of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on flights to or from certain destinations to prevent infectious and contagious diseases.
Rules established by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) permit the use of certain insecticides, which have the approval of and are recommended by the WHO, based on their efficacy and minimal human toxicity. These rules are binding on International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) contracting states.
All pesticides used for aircraft disinsection in Great Britain (GB) must be approved by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) under the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986. The active ingredient in sprays in GB is either 2 per cent. permelhrin or 2 per cent. d-phenothrin.