HL Deb 12 February 2002 vol 631 cc140-1WA
Lord Hanningfield

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, in relation to Dr Vrijheid's letter to the Lancet on 26 January, they are doing everything they can to look into the safety of landfill sites including those containing hazardous and toxic waste; and what form of research they are conducting in this area. (HL2615)

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

The Government are aware of a number of research studies published in the scientific literature which investigate health outcomes in people living near landfill sites. These, including Dr Vrijheid's recently published study, have been considered by the Department of Health, which has sought advice from the independent expert advisory committee, the Committee on the Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT). They felt that it was not possible to draw firm conclusions from these studies and that further research was warranted. The most recent statement by COT is available on the department's website(www.doh.gov.uk/landh.htm).

The Government have commissioned the following reviews and research projects on the impacts of health on landfill sites:

  1. 1. A review of the potential teratogenicity of substances emanating from landfill sites.
  2. 2. A review of the known causes of congenital malformations.
  3. 3. A study of the geographical variation in overall rates on congenital anomalies and the rates of specific anomalies.
  4. 4. Exposure assessment of landfill sites.

Further information on the research programme can also be found on the website. A government-funded study of birth outcomes and selected cancers in populations living near landfill sites, carried out by the Small Area Health Statistics Unit, was published in August 2001. A copy of the report is available in the Library and on the department's website.