Additional environmental checks are to be carried out in and around the Grenfell Tower site to provide extra reassurance to survivors and local residents.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, NHS England, Public Health England and the Environment Agency have joined forces to ensure the bereaved, survivors and wider North Kensington community receive health assurances and support.
In addition to up to £50 million committed by NHS England to carry out a 5-year health monitoring programme, as well as ongoing air quality monitoring at the site, the plans involve:
- further environmental sampling of the site, including comprehensive soil analysis to check for any signs of contamination
- water analysis will take place if required
- wider health monitoring and treatment options to reassure those affected
Secretary of State for Communities, the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said "We take the wellbeing of Grenfell Tower survivors and local residents extremely seriously and it’s essential they have peace of mind regarding their health.
"The government is asking leading experts from the Environment Agency to make sure soil surveying around the tower is comprehensive and that analysis will be provided to the public.
"We recognise the concerns the community have raised with us, and we are clear that we will do whatever it takes to give them the reassurance they need and deserve."
Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Dr Patrick Vallance added "I fully support the decision of the Secretary of State to commission further environmental analysis and stand ready to offer scientific advice."
Public Health England’s Regional Director for London, Dr Yvonne Doyle, commented "Since the Grenfell Tower tragedy we have been working very closely with local health partners and the Grenfell community to ensure that they have access to best available public health evidence and advice.
"It is not unusual to find areas of contamination in cities which is often associated with historic land use or heavy traffic. It is generally considered to be very low risk to health because people would need to be exposed to the soil over long periods of time.
"We will continue to speak to local people and community groups to ensure they have all of the information they need about health."
The immediate risk to health in the aftermath of the fire was from potentially contaminated air and independent air quality monitoring was commissioned by Public Health England, which has shown the risk to public health to be consistently low.
Soil testing will determine whether there are contaminants identified beyond those which we would expect to be present in cities like London.
Many parts of the land that will be investigated are known to be former industrial sites where contamination can already exist, but the examinations that will be carried out will determine if remediation is required.
Contaminated land is generally considered to be very low risk to health, as any impact would be the result of exposure over a long period.