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Volume 490: debated on Monday 30 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what research he has commissioned on the potential health effects of composting; (264863)

(2) if he will make an assessment of the potential health effects of composting.

DEFRA has commissioned the following research:

Review of environmental and health effects of waste management: municipal solid waste and similar wastes (carried out by Enviros Consulting Ltd and the University of Birmingham, 2004)

Exposure-response relationships for bioaerosol emissions from waste treatment processes (WR0606, carried out by the Institute of Occupational Medicine, 2008), which is currently undergoing peer review.

The Environment Agency has also undertaken the following research on the health effects of composting:

Health effects of composting: a study of three compost sites and review of past data (carried out by AEA Technology, 2001)

Monitoring the environmental impact of waste composting plants (2001)

The Health and Safety Executive has undertaken the following research:

Occupational and environmental exposure to bio-aerosols from composts and health effects (carried out by The Composting Association and Health and Safety Laboratory, 2003)

Where appropriate, this completed research is incorporated into existing regulation and policy in relation to composting. There are at present no plans to carry out further research, although this will be kept under review.