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Volume 403: debated on Monday 14 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list the sources of scientific evidence and research that he has used on the possible health consequences of contact with chrysostile asbestos, with particular reference to farms. [108942]

The two most recent scientific research projects on the possible health effects of chrysotile generally are: "The Quantitative Risks of Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer in Relation to Asbestos Exposure" (Hodgson and Darnton, Annals of Occupational Hygiene, December 2000), which also considered the relevant risks of blue and brown asbestos as well; and "Opinion on Risk to human health from chrysotile asbestos and organic substitutes" (December 2002), a report by Professor Terracini on behalf of EU Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment. Both concluded that chrysotile is still a cause of concern. Exposure to chrysotile could occur if the risks from asbestos materials in buildings are not properly managed and this exposure could occur wherever such materials are present, including farms.Copies of the research reports are available in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what consultation he has held with the farming community on the (a) incidence and (b) consequences of chrysostile asbestos on farm properties. [108943]

Through the Health in Agriculture Group, set up in 1997, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has consulted with representatives of the farming community, including the National Farmers Union (NFU) and the Rural, Agriculture and Allied Workers section of the TGWU, on issues relating to asbestos.Guidance on asbestos is also included in the HSE guide to health and safety on farms, 'Farmwise', available on the HSE website at:

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make it his policy to differentiate between the controls on (a) chrysostile asbestos and (b) other more dangerous forms of asbestos on farms. [108944]

The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 sets different control limits for chrysostile and other forms of asbestos. It also requires that an assessment of the risks be undertaken before any work with asbestos begins. This should take account of both fibre types, but more importantly, the likely degree of exposure to asbestos.