Canadians unsure about carbon dioxide detector purchase for airports

Canadians are being left in the dark about testing rules for the new carbon dioxide detector bought by airports.

The detectors were designed to detect foul smells emanating from luggage or a person’s body, a current CT-19 status at the European Union.

First tests were completed at Vancouver airport on 23 January, BC’s chief medical examiner, Dr Jacqueline Odjig, said.

But by mid-February BC authorities were “not fully clear” on what airport equipment will be involved in testing the detectors, Odjig said, adding that the BC government was now pursuing the matter.

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The carbon dioxide detectors, developed by CTNSD, have failed to pass EU safety tests. Their testers say they only need to be operated for an hour per test, but suggest the detectors must be periodically “re-checked” by the operator to ensure the system detects even tiny trace emissions from biological matter.

But Odjig explained in her report: “Notably, CTNSD reports very limited system operability for their surveillance devices for a single 30 minute flight.

“The customer sales representative confirms that CTNSD is unable to show operation of their CT-19 equipment. In addition, the sales representative states that the airport with which CTNSD has contracted, is the only one where CTNSD is currently capable of purchasing CT-19 systems.

“In order to raise awareness about the proposed change in approach and these changes in ongoing system operation, the BC medical examiner has submitted another request to the air transport agency (dpa) for information about CTNSD’s processes for and the impact of its new CT-19 equipment on respiratory passengers travelling in Canada.”

The Times reported that the CT-19 was being tested in 17 Canadian airports by a fleet of 150 employees.

A spokesperson for BC’s Ministry of Transportation said CTNSD was reporting to the ministry on a “large scale implementation plan for technology in the spring.”

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But BC authorities say they are still trying to determine whether all airports in the province will be required to use the machines.

“Vancouver airport has its own PHCC [the Provincial Health Care Centre for Atmospheric Monitoring] and technicians in place that ensure the safety of passengers and airport employees,” Oddim Teigelo, a spokesperson for BC, said.

“The majority of airports in BC have not yet received the COVID but as soon as the MDSA [Municipal Aviation Authority] receives a [provisional] permit from an airworthiness manager or manufacturer, they will ask airlines to present the fleet or simulator equipment.”

According to B.C.’s Ministry of Health and Womens’ Services, CTNSD responded to a letter from the province asking for an information update on the CT-19 system,” according to a spokesperson.

Vancouver airport did not respond to a request for comment.

Helen Hummer, aviation officer with the Yellowknife-based Northwest Territories Labour Department, said her office “is waiting for our provincial occupational health and safety authority, which is the MAA, to approve the installation of the system, but our assessment has been ‘no in area’.”

What CTNSD is saying about the system’s expected costs and factors that will need to be considered are “still a little in flux”, and she anticipated a May meeting.

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