Embargo: Immediate Monday 14 May 2007

Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659


The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee have announced that they are to conduct a short inquiry to re-examine air travel and health.

The Committee first looked at the issue in 2000. Its highly influential report, Air Travel and Health, did much to raise public understanding of health concerns surrounding air travel, including deep vein thrombosis, oxygen depletion, cross-infection, and cabin air contamination. The report, while concluding that there was insufficient evidence to prove that air travel presented major health risks, highlighted the urgent need to undertake research in the area, as well to improve the information for passengers. It led directly to the establishment by the government of the Aviation Health Working Group, which has since co-ordinated policy in this area.

The Committee have now decided to look at the issues again. It is inviting evidence in particular on whether the gaps in research have now been filled, and also on whether government, regulators and the airline industry have done enough to raise the profile of health issues, and to improve conditions for those travelling by air.

Some specific areas the Committee will look at include:

  • What progress has been made in researching the priority areas the committee identified in 2000?

  • Have new health concerns emerged since 2000 - for example what can be done to limit the role of air travel in spreading diseases such as SARS or pandemic influenza?

  • How effective has the Aviation Health Working Group been?

  • What progress has the airline industry made since 2000?

  • How far has the information supplied to travellers improved since 2000?

Lord Broers, Chairman of the Lords Science and Technology Committee, said:

"There has been major growth in the aviation industry since 2000. More people than ever are travelling by air, and public concern over the possible health effects is still high.

"Our report in 2000 was hugely influential, but the time is right to look at what progress has made in the last 7 years, and to consider what more can be done by government, regulators and airlines themselves to improve health and safety for airline passengers and cabin crew."

Notes to Editors

1. The Committee have published a call for evidence which can be found here:

The deadline for the submission of written evidence is Monday 18th June.

2. The Committee's original report, Air Travel and Health can be found at:

3. The members of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee are:

Lord Broers (Chairman)

Lord Colwyn

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

Lord Haskel Earl of Selborne

Lord Howie of Troon

Lord May of Oxford

Lord O'Neill of Clackmannan

Lord Patel

Lord Paul

Baroness Perry of Southwark

Baroness Platt of Writtle

Baroness Sharp of Guildford

Lord Sutherland of Houndwood

Lord Taverne