HC Deb 30 June 1982 vol 26 cc338-9W
Mr. Stevens

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress has been made with the 1981 United Kingdom survey implementing the European Community directive on the biological screening of the population for lead, announced on 3 March 1981, Official Report, c. 100.

Mr. Giles Shaw

We have now received results from all the participating local and health authorities, and I have placed in the Library a report of our preliminary analyses. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I have sent copies to hon. Members with a constituency interest.

The results show an improvement over those for 1979–80, both in the general picture and in potential "hot spots", including those places where the first campaign found breaches of the reference levels. Taken as a whole, the results reinforce the Government's view that levels of lead pollution in the environment give no cause for alarm, and that we are right to press ahead with seeking to reduce people's exposure to lead from all sources.

Of the 35 groups surveyed, mainly chosen for their higher-than-normal risk fo exposure to lead pollution, 32 met the "reference levels" set in the directive. The upper level was narrowly exceeded by a group of leadworkers' children in Gravesham—only one child in 43 was over the limit—and by a randomly selected group of adults in Islington. In both cases, the local authorities have identified likely sources of lead for each individual with a high blood-lead concentration—dust carried from the leadworks on parents' clothes or hair, carelessly stripped or sanded paintwork, and burning of scrap cable—and appropriate action has been taken by the pollution control authorities. Neither result indicates any general problem in the area in question. A group of mothers in Ayr exceeded all three reference levels. There a problem of lead in drinking water had been identified just before the survey was organised; and Strathclyde regional council has since taken action to treat the water supply chemically, markedly reducing its plumbosolvency.

The report will be sent to the Commission of the European Communities. A more detailed analysis of the United Kingdom results will be published in due course.

Our thanks go to all those who contributed to the success of the survey, in particular to the members of the public who volunteered to participate in the survey and provide samples of blood.