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Toxic fumes threat to air passengers'

PUBLISHED: 15:43 10 June 2009 | UPDATED: 11:05 12 August 2010

A TOP health watchdog is to launch tests at an airport after a damning report said that workers and passengers are blighted by toxic fumes. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will conduct tests at London City Airport after workers complained of persis

A TOP health watchdog is to launch tests at an airport after a damning report said that workers and passengers are blighted by toxic fumes.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will conduct tests at London City Airport after workers complained of persistent and severe breathing difficulties from aircraft fumes.

Due to a unique parking system for aircraft, fumes have allegedly been propelled directly into customer lounges and many members of staff have been taken ill as a result.

A report by Professor Douglas of Medical and Professional Services found that staff and passengers were at serious risk from "volatile organic compounds" inside the airport.

Stephanie Attwood, representing Bexley, Bromley and Greenwich members of GMB union workers at the airport, said: "Workers have come to us complaining of stinging eyes, sore throats, itchy skin and in some cases severe breathing difficulties. During winter months the situation is worse because aircraft engines have to be on for longer to warm the aircraft up. Once the fumes get into the lounges it can't get out very easily, so it stays there."

She said one member has to take regular sick leave in winter due to breathing difficulties and added: "It's not just staff who are at risk, passengers who have to spend any length of time in customer lounges are exposed to toxic fumes. We welcome a decision by the HSE to monitor the airport for pollution."

A spokeswoman for the airport said: "London City Airport takes very seriously the health, safety and wellbeing of all passengers, staff and other contractors on the airport site.

"We have had in place a comprehensive air quality monitoring and management programme throughout the airport for a number of years. As part of that programme we have monitored extensively the areas alluded to by the GMB. During that time our records show that we have not breached any statutory air quality limits. The results were made available to staff."

In 2008 a record 3.2million passengers went through London City Airport. It is two miles away from the 2012 Olympic Games site.

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