§ Mr. Ashton
asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government (1) what tests involving the detergent used to clean beaches of oil have been carried out by or on behalf of his Department on asthmatic persons; and what are the results;
(2) what medical tests have been carried out into the safety of the detergent used to clean beaches of oil; and what are the results;
(3) what complaints his department have received concerning the effect on human beings of the detergent used to clean the oil-polluted beaches; and why those making complaints have not been medically examined by health officers acting on behalf of his Department in the Hayle area of Cornwall.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
No tests involving detergent have been carried out by or on behalf of my Department on asthmatic persons.
It has been known for some time that if people using detergent spraying equipment are not protected they may suffer irritation of the skin, eyes and respiratory passages. My Department has therefore thought it more useful to emphasise the importance of protective measures—such as wearing PVC clothing and goggles—than to sponsor medical tests. This was stressed in a booklet of technical guidance issued to all coastal authorities on 8th July, 1968.
For the general public using a beach which has been treated with detergent I 221W am advised that there is no danger because vigorous hosing, or washing by the incoming tide, is an essential part of the process and both of these methods ensure rapid dilution of the detergent. In 1967 a complaint was received about the effect on human beings of detergent used on Cornish beaches polluted by the "Torrey Canyon" but the circumstances did not seem to call for special investigation by my Department in the face of information received from general practitioners and medical officers of health in Cornwall. This did not reveal any increase in the incidence of dermatitis or other ill effects of oil or detergents.