HL Deb 07 June 2004 vol 662 cc13-4WA
The Countess of Mar

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In how many of the 47 incidents cited in the Advisory Committee on Pesticides' paper on risks to bystanders from the desiccation of potato haulms with 77 per cent sulphuric acid, involving exposure to sulphuric acid investigated by the Health and Safety Executive, was 24 hours notice given to those individuals living within 25 metres of the boundary of the treated land; whether the operators posted notices correctly to warn people to stay out of the treated area for 96 hours; and in how many instances this information was not recorded by the Health and Safety Executive. [HL2989]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham

During the period 1 April 1993 to 31 March 2003, 47 incidents (complaints) concerning allegations of ill health from exposure to sulphuric acid had been received and investigated by HSE's Field Operations Directorate.

The complaints were predominantly raised by members of the public, typically passers-by or local residents, but included a number of occupationally related incidents raised by spray operators and other workers.

The conditions of approval for the use of sulphuric acid as a pesticide in relation to period of notice and exclusion of unprotected individuals were not relevant to every incident.

In eight of the 22 incidents involving the owners/ residents of properties within 25 metres of the land being treated, prior written notification had been provided by users. In 12 of the incidents, prior written notification had not been provided. In the remaining two incidents, the information was not accurately recorded.

In 10 of the 15 incidents involving members of the public alleging various failures to comply with good application practice, adequate warning notices had been posted in footpaths/at points of access to or adjacent to the treated crop. In three of the incidents, adequate warning notices had not been posted. In one incident the information was not accurately recorded and the remaining incident related to alleged exposures over a period of time rather than to any identifiable, specific application/treatment.

Of the remining incidents, three concerned passing road users, three occupational exposure and in the remaining four incidents, the status of the complainant and the relevance of the conditions of approval was not clear from the investigation report.