§ Mr. Ronnie Campbell
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will monitor the levels of serious illness in areas where there is opencast mining generating dust. 
§ Mr. Horam
Research on the effects on health of air pollution, including that of dust from opencast mining, has been referred to the independent advisory Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants. COMEAP has considered the suggestion that opencast coal mining might have a harmful effect on the health of those living close to the workings. A study by Temple, 1992, was considered and COMEAP agreed that the results reported were consistent with an association between the opening266W of an opencast mine and an increase in asthma consultations. However, the committee considered that local awareness of the opening of the mine and concern about its possible effects on health were plausible explanations of the association and that further work would be needed to sustain a causal hypothesis.
In 1994 the Department of the Environment, the Department of Health and the Medical Research Council issued a joint call for proposals for research into air pollution and respiratory disease. The Department is currently considering the proposals that were put forward, including studies on the health effects of opencast mining.