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Asthma

Volume 229: debated on Friday 23 July 1993

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To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what assessment he has made of the extent of links in Wales between opencast mining and the incidence of asthma; and if he will make a statement.

In 1988 the Welsh Office commissioned an independent expert assessment of a report, produced by Drs. Temple, Watkins, Thomas and Rees of Glynneath, which alleged an association between opencast operations and illnesses in the local community. The assessment, by Dr. Peter Elwood, concluded that the data on asthma presented in the Glynneath's doctors' report were flawed and that it was impossible to draw firm conclusions from the report.The Government's committee on the medical effects of air pollutants has considered the suggestion that opencast coal mining might have a deleterious effect upon the health of those living nearby. No convincing evidence to support this suggestion has been discovered. A recent study by Dr. Temple was considered by the committee. Although it agreed that the results were compatible with an association between opencast coal mining and asthma consultations, the committee considered that further work would be needed to sustain a causal hypothesis.The Government remain interested in the results of good quality research in this field.