Families near Grenfell Tower concerned over potentially harmful toxins in soil

- Advertisement -

Anxious community members living in the shadow of Grenfell Tower asked if their children are safe to play in local parks and continue going to school following reports of potentially harmful toxins in the soil.

Soil and dust samples taken by Professor Anna Stec revealed “huge concentrations” of potential carcinogens around the west London tower block, the Guardian reported on Friday.

The local council and officials at public health England (PHE) first became aware of the researcher’s concerns in February, representatives told a tense Grenfell recovery scrutiny meeting held at Kensington and Chelsea council (RBKC) Town Hall on Monday evening.

They are now “urgently” seeking a meeting with Prof Stec so they can see her full data and act if necessary.

Grenfell United, which represents survivors, the bereaved and the local community, has written to ministers requesting “urgent detail” and a separate public meeting.

This would “allay any fears and offer reassurance to our already traumatised community”.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, regional director for PHE London told the meeting, which discussed the issue for more than an hour: “We are not changing the advice now, but we are keeping an open mind on this because if something changes we would obviously need to examine that and change the advice appropriately.”

The exasperation in the room was palpable, with several community members mentioning they had repeatedly raised their concerns about the physical health implications of the fire.

The fire, on June 14 last year, claimed 72 lives.

PHE has consistently monitored air quality levels since the initial days following the blaze, but has not taken soil or water samples.

Tower survivor Bellal El Guenuni told the meeting of his family’s “great anxiety” following the recent news.

He said: “My question is if the report is founded and correct, what are the implications for the people living around the area, our kids playing in parks.

“Is there a problem with my kids playing in a park?”

Ms Doyle said she was sorry the news had caused anxiety in the community, adding: “I would not change my advice at the moment because I have no reason to believe there is an enhanced risk from this year to the last year.”

A woman who said she lived on Bramley Road, near to the tower, said her previously healthy son had 27 absences from his local school last year.

The concerns were backed up by Notting Dale Labour councillor and local resident Judith Blakeman, who said she was anecdotally aware of an “enormous amount of illness”, particularly in schoolchildren.

She had pneumonia after the fire, and says she still suffers from what locals have dubbed the “Grenfell cough”.

Ms Doyle said there were 31 people with serious respiratory problems being followed up, and promised to follow up concerns about the cough.

“I would not dismiss it, it’s real,” she said.

The council said it would look at its records on historical land use and contamination to establish a baseline to which post-fire samples could be compared.

It said: “This study has not yet been shared with relevant experts in the field, nor published.

“The Director of Public Health for Kensington and Chelsea, together with Public Health England, are seeking an urgent meeting with Professor Stec to discuss her study, its methodology and its implications.

“They will then undertake a rapid review of what, if any, further actions should be taken with regard to any soil contamination, in order to protect and reassure the public.”

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

- Advertisement -

UK News

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Read the latest free supplements

Read the Town Crier, Le Rocher and a whole host of other subjects like mortgage advice, business, cycling, travel and property.