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Bischloromethyl Ether (Exposure Studies)

Volume 984: debated on Thursday 8 May 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he expects the Employment Medical Advisory Service to complete the study of workers exposed to bischloromethyl ether; whether any financial contribution to the study is being made by Diamond Shamrock Chemicals and Rohn and Haas; if so, why; and if he will make a statement.

[pursuant to his reply, 6 May 1980, c. 4–5]: The Employment Medical Advisory Service (EMAS) of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is not conducting a study of workers exposed to bischloromethyl ether (bis CME). A mortality study of workers employed in the manufacture of bis CME in two factories in Great Britain was set up by EMAS in August 1971 to investigate whether excess mortality was observed in workers who might have been exposed to bis CME. When further information regarding the hazards of bis CME became available from other sources, the HSE advised that exposure to the chemical should be kept as low as is reasonably practicable.The mortality study was taken over for completion and reporting by the Department of Occupational Health and Hygiene (DOHH). University of Newcastle upon Tyne. HSE no longer has any direct involvement in the study. I am informed that the DOHH has received contributions towards expenses from the two firms concerned, namely, Rohm and Haas (UK) Ltd. and DiaProsim Ltd., a subsidiary of Diamond Shamrock Corporation, but I understand that completion of the study has been temporarily delayed by lack of funds. As HSE already acknowledges the hazards associated with bis CME EMAS does not recommend priority for further HSE funding of the study.