A newspaper article caught our eye. According to the Yorkshire Post report “Inquiry ordered into birth defects linked to pollution”
Published on Thursday 15 September 2005 09:03 it is stated
“The HPA, a semi-independent government-funded body, has been investigating possible links between pollution and illness in the West Midlands.
Dr Patrick Saunders, who runs the research programme concerned, said: “The West Midlands pilot mapped data on potential sources of environmental contamination and data on hospital admissions and registrations for diseases such as lung cancer. This enabled possible connections between clusters of disease and possible sites of contamination to be investigated. While the system doesn’t prove a link, it does identify areas that need further detailed investigation.
Dr Saunders said it could be that known factors cause the health problems, but added: “You cannot rule out the possibility that some, at least, is due to environmental exposure. There are issues we need to investigate further – in particular, a small but consistent link between land-fill sites and congenital abnormalities.
Their biggest problem is a lack of records directly measuring poisoning by pollution.”
Given the nature of the Rattlechain site and its toxic contents and that the author cited was Patrick Saunders of the Sandwell Primary Care trust, supposedly independently reviewing the HPA human health risk assessment, this report would provide interesting background.
WHAT DID WE ASK AND WHAT DID THEY KNOW?
“Could I request the full results of this study concerning the West Midlands refered to by the former Head of the Chemical and Hazards poisons division and risk at the HPA, who now works at Sandwell PCT and the subsequent areas that were identified for further detailed investigation?”
The HPA responded.
“In your request, you referred to a quote given by Dr Patrick Saunders, the former Head of the Chemical Hazards and Poisons Division. Having contacted Dr Saunders, who as you quite rightly state, is now a Public Health Consultant for Sandwell PCT, he has informed us that the research to which he was referring was his own PhD thesis, which is entitled “Investigating the Public Health Impact of Contaminated Land Using Routinely Available Health Data” (by Dr PJ Saunders, University of Birmingham, School of Medicine 2004).
The thesis remains the copyright of the author and for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 is not held by the Health Protection Agency.
If you would like to access Dr Saunders’ thesis, a copy is held at the Barnes Medical Library at the University of Birmingham. Their contact details are as follows:
Barnes Medical Library School of Medicine
University of Birmingham
Birmingham B15 2TT”
IN ADDITION TO THIS AN INTERESTING ANNOTATION WAS ADDED TO THE WHAT DO THEY KNOW WEBSITE REQUEST BY A MR MICHAEL RYAN, CITED IN THE ORIGINAL NEWSPAPER ARTICLE.
Part of this reads
“I e-mailed Dr Patrick Saunders at the HPA in October 2005 to suggest that Dr Dick van Steenis MBBS and I be involved in the research reported in Yorkshire Post. I was surprised to get a reply saying that there wasn’t to be any research and Dr Saunders failed to tell me that he’d been referring to his own PhD thesis.
I’m very grateful to Mr Carroll for his FoI request and I wonder whether Dr Saunders has had a chance to see which Sandwell electoral ward has the highest 2004-2008 infant mortality rate on this map:
The HPA’s promised (will it keep this one??) study into “birth outcomes” around incinerators can be seen at:
here’s link to the Japanese study which concluded:
“Our study shows a peak-decline in risk with distance from the municipal solid waste incinerators for infant deaths and infant deaths with all congenital malformations combined.”
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Though straying off the topic of Rattlechain slightly, Mr Ryan’s research is worrying given the links with infant mortality and pollution and his arguments deserve to be heard. Unfortunately it appears that those like Mr Ryan’s efforts are frequently squashed by people in authority, or not investigated in a manner which sets out to prove anything other than “further research is needed.”
It is disappointing that the HPA could not supply the material refered to in the Yorkshire Post article which was not a report by the HPA at all but a personal PHD thesis according to the reply, and even more so that residents in the West Midlands to which it refers cannot access it easily without having to go to a University with clear links to the very industrial polluting industry that the thesis attempts to investigate.
We do not believe that any conclusive link between birth defects linked to pollution will ever be admitted by a Government body. It is too costly to the economy, the primary concern of MP’s, and those whose jobs rely on further researching this topic, as well as the polluting industry whose lobbyists ensure that critical reports will never reach the public domain without being watered down, restricted or slated by industry friendly scientists in cushy university positions. WE WONDER WHETHER THE HPA DURING IT’S EXISTENCE PROTECTED THE PUBLIC OR JUST SHIELDED INDUSTRY. It is now known as “Public health England”