HC Deb 14 December 1993 vol 234 c550W
Mr. Gapes

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what studies her Department has carried out of the effect of increasing traffic volumes on levels of asthma among children and adults.

Mr. Sackville

The Department is funding a research project which will examine the health effects, including effects on asthmatics, of the December 1991 air pollution episode in London when the highest recorded peak of nitrogen dioxide occurred.

In addition, the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution which was established by the chief medical officer last year has set up a sub-group on asthma which will investigate the relationships between air pollution and trends in asthma incidence, and will make recommendations on research relating to asthma and air pollution.

The main agency through which the Government support biomedical and clinical research is the Medical Research Council—MRC—which receives its grant in aid from the office of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The MRC is sponsoring some research into factors contributing to the rise of asthma and has set up a working party to examine the aetiology of asthma under the chairmanship of Professor A. J. Newman Taylor. It is considering a range of possible contributory factors to current levels of asthma including air pollution. The Department is represented on the working party and on the MRC committee on toxic hazards in the workplace and the environment, both of which will consider areas of need for further research.