HC Deb 18 July 1995 vol 263 c1148W
Mr. Llew Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what experiments have been conducted on civilians to assess the effects of radiation; and what information he has to the explanations given to the subjects of such research. [35157]

Mr. Bowis

The Department has funded a programme of work on radiological protection at the then United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, UKAEA, now AEA Technology, AEA, since April 1986, when funding on this programme by the Department of Energy was transferred to the Department of Health. The Department also contributes to funding of research conducted by the National Radiological Protection Board, NRPB. Under these programmes, a number of experiments have been conducted on a small number of human volunteers to provide information on the metabolism and dosimetry of radionuclides which will improve knowledge on the health risks from radiation. These experiments involve trace levels of radiation which present a very low risk from radiation. These experiments involve trace levels of radiation which present a very low risk to health. The AEA research is published in AEA's annual report on radiological protection, copies of which are available in the Library. The NRPB publishes the results of its research in a number of board publications and a copy of its annual corporate plan is in the Library. Like AEA it also publishes in scientific journals.

The studies are all approved by ethics committees which operate according to World Health Organisation guidelines, and informed consent from the volunteer is a prerequisite. The consent form cannot be signed until the nature, purpose and possible hazards of the study are explained to the volunteer. In addition, all studies using radioactivity in humans require a certificate issued by Health Ministers. The Administration of Radioactive Substances Advisory Committee advises Health Ministers on the granting of such certificates and the committee specifically considers the radiation hazards.