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What guidance and health warnings were given to vulnerable groups and more widely by the Department of Health or other statutory authorities following the explosions and conflagration involving fuel storage tanks at the Buncefield complex in Hertfordshire on 11 December; on what date or dates, and at what time or times, they were issued; and what monitoring there has been of the health consequences of the explosions. [HL3038]
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): The Health Protection Agency (HPA) provided the majority of the health warnings and guidance to the public following the Buncefield explosions. All messages to the public were issued via the lead agency for this incident, the police-led, multi-agency gold control. The health messages were informed by advice from local health services and the HPA.
Health advice was contained in a range of gold control press briefings issued from 8.55 on 11 December through to 10.15 on 14 December. The health messages were added to websites, including that of the HPA.
The message for the phase from 8.55 on 11 December until 10.15 on 14 December was "go in, stay in and tune in". From the afternoon of 13 December the health message also included advice to avoid contact with firefighting foam. At 10.15 on 14 December the message was changed; people were advised to go about their normal business unless they were in the immediate area where smoke plume was falling to the ground, or they experienced an increase in strong fuel-like odours. In this event people were advised to go indoors and shut windows and doors until the smoke had cleared.
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On 15 December a joint statement by the Dacorum Primary Care Trust, the Watford and Three Rivers Primary Care Trust and the HPA was issued. This advised that there were not expected to be any health problems associated with residual vapours from the incident and gave advice on removing soot particles from the plume on cars, window sills, etc.
A further joint statement from these health bodies was issued on 16 December advising that the assessment to date is that there has been no significant impact on health following the incident, provided members of the public had followed the earlier advice, and that there was no likelihood of further acute risk to health.
Monitoring and surveillance of health impacts has been ongoing since the incident, with the HPA leading. Information from NHS Direct, accident and emergency departments and general practitioners has been studied.
As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question concerning how the general incidence of cancer in the United Kingdom compares to the general incidence of cancer in other developed countries. (HL3109)
Information on the comparison of cancer incidence in the UK and other developed countries is available from the Cancer Incidence in Five Continents (CI5) study. The most recently published results from this study are in Cancer Incidence in Five Continents Volume VIII 1 (IARC Scientific Publications No. 155); a copy is available in the House of Commons Library. These results relate to patients diagnosed with cancer during 199397 and present data from 186 registries in 57 countries covering parts of the UK, Europe, Oceania, North America, Asia, Central and South America, and Africa.
1 Parkin DM, Whelan SL, Ferlay J, Teppo L and Thomas DB (Eds). Cancer Incidence in Five Continents Volume VIII. (IARC Scientific Publications No. 155). Lyon: International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2002.
incidence, mortality and population data are available in the 15 member states of the European Union; at present the latest data available are for 1998. The EUCAN database is available on the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) website at www-dep.iarc.fr/eucan/eucan.htm.
Comparable cancer data for the UK and other developed countries can be found on the GLOBOCAN database. The GLOBOCAN 2002 database contains estimates of cancer incidence, mortality and prevalence worldwide for 2002. The GLOBOCAN 2000 database is also available on the IARC website at www-dep.iarc.fr/globocan/database.htm.
Information on cancer incidence (based on the registration of newly diagnosed cases) for each health authority in the United Kingdom for 21 major cancers, can be found in Cancer Atlas of the United Kingdom and Ireland 19912000 1 , which is available on the National Statistics website at www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp?vlnk=14059&Pos=&ColRank=1&Rank=272.
Analysis of the figures and the conclusions to be drawn are presented in the report. For each cancer, geographic patterns are described and related to known risk factors and levels of socio-economic deprivation. Comparisons between cancers are also presented.
What comparisons have been made between the incidence of cancer in areas under or close to the flight paths of major airports, and other areas in the United Kingdom; and whether they will publish any results; and [HL3111]
1 Quinn MJ, Wood HE, Cooper N & Rowan SD (Eds). Cancer Atlas of the United Kingdom and Ireland 19912000. Studies on Medical and Population Subjects No. 68. London: Office for National Statistics, 2005.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): The Department of Health has not undertaken a comparison between cancer rates in people living under flight-paths or close to airports with those among people living elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Research work has been published in the past in this area, but this has not been reviewed by the department. A rapid search of an international database has not revealed any more recent relevant publications. The Government know of no evidence that people in areas under or close to flight paths of major airports are disproportionately affected by cancer and have not discussed with foreign health officials the effects of airports on the incidence of cancer.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): Working Together to Safeguard Children, the Government's core guidance on safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, defines child abuse and neglect as inflicting harm or failing to act to prevent harm against a child. Child abuse may take the form of physical, emotional or sexual abuse. Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child's basic needs.
The department collects statistics on referrals, assessments and children and young people on child protection registers (including the type of abuse, or neglect, of which they are judged to be at risk). However, the statistics do not include information on the numbers of children who have suffered serious child abuse at the hands of parents.
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