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Industrial Disease

Volume 407: debated on Wednesday 25 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what evidence he has collated on possible links between industrial processes and installations and specific cancers, broken down by (a) cancer type and (b) geographic region; and if he will make a statement. [120630]

I have been asked to reply.For people occupationally exposed to industrial processes, I am advised by the Health and Safety Executive that the highest profile industrial processes definitively linked to cancer by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, are as follows.

Industrial processCancer type
Aluminium ProductionLung, bladder
Destructive distillation of coalSkin, bladder, respiratory tract
Iron and steel foundingLung
Boot and shoe manufacture and repairNose
Furniture and cabinet makingNose
Manufacture of isopropyl alcoholParanasal sinuses
Production of paint and work as a painter (and decorator)Lung cancer
Manufacture of rubber and rubber compoundsBladder
Manufacture of dyes containing aromatic aminesBladder
Manufacture of mustard gasLung, upper respiratory tract
In addition, there are many agents and substances that have been proved to cause cancer, irrespective of industrial process. The highest profile of these are:
Agent or substanceCancer type
AsbestosLung, pleura, peritoneum
Ionising radiationWide variety including breast, leukaemia, lung, thyroid
Chromium VI compoundsLung
Nickel compoundsLung, nose
Vinyl chlorideLiver
Coal tar pitchesLung
Arsenic and arsenical compoundsSkin, lung
Ultraviolet radiationSkin
Bischloromethyl etherLung
Mineral acid mistsLarynx
Diesel engine exhaustLung
There are hundreds of other chemicals and processes for which there is some evidence of a link with cancer, but for which a causal association has not been confirmed.The Government have funded a number of studies by the Small Area Health Statistics Unit at Imperial College, London, of cancer rates in people living near industrial installations. Details of the cancers and the geographical regions studied are given in the published reports of these studies, details of which are given.Cancer incidence and mortality near the Baglan Bay petrochemical works, South Wales; by S. Sans, P. Elliott, I. Kleinschmidt, G. Shaddick, S. Pattenden, P. Walls, C. Grundy and H. Dolk, published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine (1995), volume 52, pages 217–224.Lympho-haematopoeitic malignancy around all industrial complexes that include major oil refineries in Great Britain; by P. Wilkinson, B. Thakrar, P. Walls, M. Landon, S. Falconer, C. Grundy and P. Elliott, published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine (1999), volume 56, pages 577–80.

Incidence of cancer of the larynx and lung near incinerators of waste solvents and oils in Great Britain; by P. Elliott, M. Hills, J. Beresford, I. Kleinschmidt, D. Jolley, S. Pattenden, L. Rodrigues, A. Westlake, G. Rose, published in the Lancet (1992), volume 339, pages 854–58.

Angiosarcoma of the liver in Great Britain in proximity to vinyl chloride sites; by P. Elliott and I. Kleinschmidt, published in "Occupational and Environmental Medicine" (1997), volume 54, pages 14–18.

Cancer incidence and mortality around the Pan Britannica Industries pesticide factory, Waltham Abbey; by P. Wilkinson, B. Thakrar, G. Shaddick, S. Stevenson, S. Pattenden, M. Landon, C. Grundy and P. Elliott, published in "Occupational and Environmental Medicine" (1997), volume 54, pages 101–107.

In its third report, the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) recommended an investigation of the geographical distribution of childhood cancer and leukaemia in Great Britain and how the pattern of cases around nuclear installations compares with the national pattern. This study in nearing completion. The database will also allow investigation of other environmental factors and their potential relevance to the temporal and spatial distribution of childhood cancer.