HC Deb 08 December 1971 vol 827 cc1284-5
22. Mrs. Joyce Butler

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether the measurement of lead in sewage sludge is included in the studies he is making on lead pollution; and when he expects to be able to publish his conclusions as to the safety of this substance when used as an agricultural and horticultural fertiliser.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

The answer to the first part of the Question is, "Yes"; to the second part, that the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service already gives advice on the suitability of any particular sludge for agricultural and horticultural purposes.

Mrs. Butler

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply, but may we be told when we shall have the report of this special study, since, although advice may be given to farmers, there is widespread lack of public knowledge at present about which sludges are safe from lead and which are not, and there is concern also about the construction of housing estates on former sewage works land which may be heavily contaminated by lead? There is need for much more official guidance and information.

Mr. Griffiths

I understand that there is some lead in all human sewage. I take it that the report to which the hon. Lady refers comes from the Ministry of Agriculture, that is, the Report of its Working Party on the Monitoring of Foodstuffs for Mercury and Heavy Metals. It has already been published. As regards housing, it may well be that some former sewage works land is not suitable for houses with gardens, but it may nevertheless be suitable for large blocks of flats.

Mrs. Butler

I mean the Department's own report on lead.