HC Deb 10 November 1988 vol 140 c285W
Mr. Churchill

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will take steps to purchase or obtain the use of equipment recently developed in the United States of America, capable of tracing radiation in an individual's bone and the date of that exposure, so as to enable tests to be carried out on all British service men involved in Britain's nuclear test programme who may request it; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Currie

No. We are advised that such equipment, known as dual laser beam flow sorters, cannot, as yet, measure radiation doses to the bone marrow with any more precision than established techniques. We are further advised that it is not, at present, possible to estimate accurately doses which were received many years ago, unless such doses had been so high that serious health effects would have occurred within a few weeks of exposure.

We understand that work is currently being carried out at the Medical Research Council's clinical and population cytogenetics unit in Edinburgh in an attempt to develop flow sorter technology so that, at some time in the future, it may he possible to estimate much lower doses.

A review of this type of technology has recently been carried out in relation to possible studies of American test veterans, and arrived at the same conclusions as those outlined above.