HC Deb 04 March 2003 vol 400 cc995-6W
Norman Baker

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the recent research published by the European Commission on Radiation Risk and the implications for human health. [100400]

Ms Blears

The European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) maintains that the scientific evidence for the harmful effects of ionising radiation accumulated by the international scientific community over several decades is flawed and risks are being under-estimated significantly. This hypothesis, originally proposed by Dr. Chris Busby, founder of the special interest group "Green Audit", is currently being considered in detail by the Committee Examining Radiation Risks from Internal Emitters (CERRIE). This Committee was set up by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) and their conclusions will be published in due course. Dr. Busby is a member of CERRIE.

ECRR is not a formal scientific advisory committee to the European Commission or to the European Parliament. Its report1 is published by the Green Audit. Dr. Busby is the secretary of ECRR.

1Green Audit. 2003 Recommendations of the European Committee on Radiation Risk. Editor Chris Busby with Rosalie Bertell, Inge Schmitz-Feuerhake, Molly Scott Cato and Alexei Yablokov http://www.euradcom.org/2003/ecrr2003.htm#press

Norman Baker

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of the health implications arising from the operation of the nuclear industry. [100402]

Ms Blears

The independent Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) was set up in 1985 to advise Government on such matters. COMARE has carried out a series of investigations into alleged increases of cancer around several nuclear installations in Great Britain and has published seven reports and a variety of statements.

It is currently awaiting the results of a national study of childhood cancer in Great Britain, including all cases from the 1960s onwards. This study will include data on over 33,000 cases of childhood cancer and will address the question of whether there is a real association between British nuclear installations and the incidence of those cancer cases. This will be the subject of a major COMARE report, which it hopes to complete this year. The Department of Health and the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs has also asked COMARE to review the latest data on the risks from internal radiation emitters and advise on any further research that may be required. To help them to do this they have set up the Committee Examining Radiation Risks from Internal Emitters (CERRIE). This group is also hoping to report in 2003. Furthermore, Government have asked the small area statistics unit to draw up a protocol for a study of the incidence of adult cancers in the areas around British nuclear installations.

Since 1986, the Department of Health and its predecessor, the Department of Health and Social Security, has administered the Radiological Protection Research Programme. The objective of this programme is to identify the research which is needed to inform policy development in the area of low level radiation exposure (both ionising and non-ionising), its effects, and the need to quantify the risk to public health and to implement appropriate preventative measures. The programme has funded many individual research projects designed to examine these aspects of radiation exposure.

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