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28 March 2019
Research from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has confirmed that toxic dust and debris from the Grenfell Tower in 2017 have polluted the surrounding area.
The toxic chemicals are believed to be cancer and asthma-causing, despite the government claiming risk to health was “generally very low”.
Soil samples were gathered by Professor Anna Stec, who explained that the chemicals were “many times higher than normal” toxic levels.
She said: "Fires release a rich cocktail of pollutants, many of them acutely or chronically toxic.
"There is an increased risk of a number of health problems to those in the local area, from asthma to cancer."
The study, which took samples from locations up to 1.2km away from Grenfell Tower, uncovered "significant environmental contamination" in the surrounding area, including in oily deposits collected 17 months after the tragedy.
Natasha Elcock, chairwoman of Grenfell United, said the findings were "alarming and hugely upsetting to read."
"Testing in the community must start immediately and by immediately, we mean yesterday."
Professor Stec continued, “There is undoubtedly evidence of contamination in the area surrounding the tower, which highlights the need for further in-depth, independent analysis to quantify any risks to residents.
"It is now crucial to put in place long-term health screening to assess any long-term adverse health effects of the fire on local residents, emergency responders and clean-up workers."
The government announced that further environmental checks were to be carried out around Grenfell Tower last year and a Public Health England spokesperson commented:
“We take Professor Stec's findings extremely seriously and fully appreciate the ongoing health concerns.
"We have established a comprehensive programme of environmental checks to fully assess the risks and take appropriate action.”