Saturday, May 25, 2013

Opinion/Letter: Is spraying the cabins of aircraft really necessary?

Saturday, May 25, 2013
Opinion > Letter 

Dear Editor,

Caribbean Airlines’ Guyanese passengers have long expressed concern about the airline’s practice of spraying insecticide within their closed cabins prior to take-off.  Murmurs can be heard as the flight attendant walks the length of the plane’s cabin spraying insecticide. Some passengers are observed trying to cover their noses while others discretely fan away the fumes from themselves and infants.

“What exactly is the content of the aerosol spray?” is usually the meek, polite question asked by passengers. “Why is it that Caribbean Airlines seems to be the only one doing it if it is so necessary? Can it present immediate or latent health concerns? Why are passengers not offered the option to use a surgical mask or eye protector during the spraying exercise?” are some other questions they think aloud.

These are all perfectly valid and reasonable questions to which the travelling public has the right to have answers. Consequently, we call on Caribbean Airlines to provide full disclosure as to the contents and strength of the chemicals they spray within the closed occupied cabins of their planes.

We understand that it may be a USA requirement for airlines to spray their cabins with insecticide when servicing some identified countries. However, my research does not show Guyana to be one of the countries on this list.

Since 1996, the Environmental Protection Agency has not registered any aerosoliz-ed insecticide products for application in the cabin or flight deck of commercial aircraft (per PR 96-3).

When I contacted Caribbean Airlines on this subject, I received the following response:

“Thank you for permitting us the opportunity to address your concerns.

“It must be explained that the spraying of Caribbean Airlines’ aircraft is a mandate of the Trinidad and Tobago Port Health Authority. This requirement must be adhered to by the airline for landing in Trinidad and Tobago and the insecticide utilized is supplied by the same authority. We have been advised that it is non-toxic to humans and hypo allergenic.

“Caribbean Airlines is currently in discussions with the relevant Public Health Officials regarding the discontinuance of this practice, as the airline has implemented alternative measures. We are currently awaiting the necessary approvals and trust that permission would be granted within the near future.

“Mr Van Bowen, we truly appreciate your feedback and the time taken to communicate with us. We look forward to your continued support and to welcoming you onboard when next you fly with us.”

Yours faithfully,
Berkeley Van Bowen

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