HC Deb 21 June 1955 vol 542 cc1138-9
39. Sir F. Medlicott

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, as representing the Lord President of the Council, what investigations are being made into the effect of fumes from diesel engines as a contributory factor in cancer of the lung.

Mr. Bevins

Under the auspices of the Medical Research Council, the exhaust products of diesel engines under different running conditions are being examined for cancer-producing substances. Information is also being collected to discover if there is any statistical relationship between the presence of various atmospheric pollutants and the incidence of lung cancer.

Sir F. Medlicott

is the Minister aware that the increase in the number of cases of cancer of the lung has coincided in a quite remarkable way with the increase in the use of oil as engine fuel, and that it was stated at a recent meeting of the British Medical Association that, although it may appear to be only a coincidence, it is too sinister to be disregarded?

Mr. Bevins

At the moment, it is simply a coincidence. It is known, however, that diesel exhaust fumes contain a great deal of soot, which in turn contains certain hydrocarbons, which can induce cancer of the skin. It is not yet established that they can produce cancer of the lung.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in America experiments showed that the increase in cancer of the lung is going on as rapidly in the country areas as in the towns?

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