§ Mr. Win Griffiths
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will commission research on the health effects of fine dust particulates from industrial and extractive industries and as to any relationship between the presence of certain types of dust in the atmosphere and the incidence of asthma.
§ Mr. Forth
[holding answer 26 November 1990]: The Health and Safety Executive has conducted extensive research and commissioned a number of extramural studies into the effects of dusts which may cause respiratory sensitisation in a range of industries. There are two current extramural research studies funded by HSE at the Institute of Occupational Medicine in Edinburgh. One examines the relationship between exposure to dust and silica by workers in the Scottish hard rock quarry industry and a number of respiratory diseases; the other is looking at the effects of dust and airborne quartz in the British heavy clay industry.
There have been a considerable number of studies researching the causes of respiratory diseases. In particular an HSE-sponsored study "The Surveillance of Work-Related and Occupational Respiratory Disease"—SWORD—is collating information on occupationally related respiratory problems; this study is intended to provide a greater understanding of the causes of a number of respiratory diseases including occupational asthma. In addition, the HSE has commissioned a research project on occupational asthma which is intended to assess the likelihood of sensitisation to some of the agents typically found in industrial environments.