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Mr. Jacques Arnold (Gravesham): I came to the House this morning to support the Proceeds of Crime Bill. I am also interested in a number of other Bills before the House, should we discuss them today. When I noticed from the Order Paper that the second Bill set down for
Column 1352consideration was the Regulation of Diet Industry Bill, I saw red, because anything that starts with the word "regulation" has that effect on me.
When I got a copy of the Bill, which was introduced by the hon. Member for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon), I noticed that it was sponsored by a further 11 hon. Members, all of whom could be described as luminaries of the trendy left. I therefore began to smell an appalling rat. When I looked at the names of the 11 sponsors, two things came to mind: first, they are all enthusiasts for the description of being politically correct and, secondly, not a single one of them is in the Chamber now to support the Bill. When I looked down the list of sponsors, I also thought that some of them were structurally challenged, but you would rule me out of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I said who I meant, which would, indeed, be ungallant. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Halifax, however, because her speech was an extremely useful opportunity to air the subject of slimming and the dangers that can arise in far too many circumstances. In that sense, the debate is useful.
I approached the debate with some trepidation, because I have just come from the Members' Dining Room, having had a good lunch. I thought that I could get into immense trouble if I spoke, particularly when the menu in the Dining Room offers an array of hefty puddings, including syrup pudding, coconut sponge, bread and butter pudding, jam roll and chocolate sponge. A diet of such puddings would almost have the diametrically opposite effect of the general meaning of that word on those who consumed them.
I agree with the hon. Member for Halifax that it is far better to rely on fresh vegetables, salads, fruits, good red meat, good healthy eating and a lot of exercise. The House will not be surprised to learn that, with my French name, I adopt that approach.
I have considered the Bill in detail and I should like to draw the attention of the House to a number of its clauses and subsections. Clause 2(1)(a) requires that any person in the diet industry should "ensure that at any premises where he carries on his business a notice is prominently displayed stating that rapid loss of weight is dangerous to health".
That is an extremely broad generalisation, because in a number of cases-- only medically qualified people could state it case by case--it may be beneficial to lose a lot of weight. It would be rather dangerous to put up such broad-brush notices as that suggested by the subsection.
Clause 2(1)(b) also requires that a person engaged in the diet industry should
"cause any book, recording or video work which he produces to carry a notice stating that permanent loss of weight is unlikely and cannot be guaranteed".
That is a broad statement, which could not be said to be the case. It is wrong to produce a propaganda statement in such a generalised form.
After all, far too often a certain product is advertised on our television screens--time and again, it is thrust down the throats of the British public. It is presented by a young salesman with a winsome smile and using warm words. He even comes from a Tory family. The product he sells is very dubious. It includes advertising slogans such as being tough on crime and the causes of crime and other similar soundbites. Should we necessarily attach to the product the description that that is unlikely and cannot
Column 1353be guaranteed? With that product, I would certainly say that because of the Labour party's record over the last few decades. Therefore, we must be careful about obliging people to put a description on a particular product.
Clause 2(1)(c) requires that other notices should be displayed, for example, to outline clearly
"the benefits and risks of loss of weight"
or to provide
"an estimated or actual timetable for any diet which he"-- the practitioner --
"proposes that the customer should follow".
Surely much of that is common sense, so I wonder whether it should be included in a notice, a booklet or in straight medical advice, which we receive from our doctors if we are worried.
It is important that the House ensures that a Bill such as this draws a careful distinction between the overwhelming majority of responsible doctors and the minority of quack doctors. We must not throw out the baby with the bath water by tarring good, responsible doctors--of whom there is a vast number--with the same brush as those quack doctors who are guilty of disgraceful and unscrupulous behaviour.
Quack doctors are nothing new; we need only go back through the centuries to see the many quack remedies which existed and which, in fact, are an absolute disgrace. Queen Elizabeth I covered her face with a white material that had a lead base because it was deemed to make her beautiful. All the lead did was to corrode the body. Many of the ancient quack remedies were stuffed with lead components that had a disastrous corrosive effect. It was all done in the interests of so-called good appearance.
We do not have to go back through many decades to recall women squeezing themselves into corsets to produce a wasp waist, with all the damage that that did to internal organs. The wish to look good can be extremely dangerous, but to produce broad generalisations that will sweep up the good doctors as well as the quack doctors, to whom we are all opposed, is a bad idea.
The hon. Member for Halifax introduced a ten-minute Bill last year in which she gave examples of products. She said that for one cream it was claimed that
"all one has to do is to lie on one's back, rub the tummy and the fat will disappear."--[ Official Report , 29 June 1994; Vol. 245, c. 816-17.]
She advised people not to try it as it did not work. That is likely to be true, because it seems to be far too easy. Some of the more generously proportioned hon. Members would immediately resort to it if it were that easy. We come back to the old adages such as, "There's one born every day" and "A fool and his money are soon parted".
We must proceed with caution on the Bill. After all, we already have remedies against quack medicines. A good example of that was given recently when the Under-Secretary of State for Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Sackville), proposed a ban on a number of products that make use of amphetamines as slimming aids. My hon. Friend is operating under section 62 of the Medicines Act 1968. His proposal is subject to consultation, but he has rightly drawn on the advice of highly qualified medical practitioners. He is exercising an Act that has already been passed by the House and that deals with products that are clearly demonstrably harmful.
Column 1354As we go through the Bill, we immediately identify a considerable number of points on which we should act exceedingly cautiously. My hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Lady Olga Maitland) referred to her concern about her daughter having an obsession with slimming. I have a similar concern with my own daughters, but, so far, they seem to have exercised a remarkable amount of common sense. We need common sense. We need to eat less and to do more exercise. A number of hon. Members can be seen teetering to and fro around the courtyard on their bicycles. How much better it would be if so many more of us in the population did likewise. We need to rely on legislation that provides conditions by which we can obtain the necessary ban on individual products.
If I were to give any advice to the House, I would say that if the Bill receives a Second Reading today after sufficient consideration by hon. Members, it will need careful consideration in Committee. 2.5 pm
Ms Tessa Jowell (Dulwich): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon) on her speech, on her extraordinary success in raising public concern about the issue, and on securing the debate today. The measure is remarkably practical. It seeks to impose some minimal standards of responsibility on an industry that, in part, flagrantly exploits the anxieties of vulnerable people. The Bill's provisions cannot simply be parodied as busybody interference. As the hon. Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold) reminded us, it is extremely important to safeguard the Bill's proposals against misrepresentation. The Bill does not propose a new regulator--no Off-Fat is proposed--or any cumbersome bureaucracy. No one reading this short Bill could possibly argue that its propositions are unreasonable. On the contrary, its proposals are so obviously fair and sensible that the diet industry will have to demonstrate why on earth it is not prepared to adopt the proposed practices. An industry it certainly is, and one which grows fat on stimulating millions of fit and healthy people into believing that there is something wrong with the way that they are.
People come in all shapes and sizes, but the slimming industry wants to turn us all into Barbie dolls. Its targets, of course, are overwhelmingly women--and increasingly, young women. Estimates suggest that, at any time, about 50 per cent. of women are on a diet of some sort. As the incidence of unhealthy weight is about 16 per cent. of the population, it follows that about a third of all women are being induced to diet for no good reason. In doing so, they put about £1 billion a year into the pockets of the diet industry.
Many young girls are tortured by anxiety about their weight anyway. To some extent, that is a normal part of adolescence and growing up. But instead of encouraging girls to love their bodies, whatever their shape or size, the diet industry perniciously feeds on those anxieties, occasionally with tragic results. At present, 125,000 women suffer from bulimia, 70,000 suffer from anorexia nervosa, and the number is doubling every decade. Great Ormond Street hospital has seen a fourfold increase in the number of children treated at its eating disorder clinic.
Column 1355There are two main strands of opposition to the Bill. The first is that we already have all the regulation that we need, primarily in the form of the Advertising Standards Authority. The other is that the diet industry is performing a valuable public service in tackling a plague of obesity, with its attendant health risks. Neither of those claims stands up. The Advertising Standards Authority monitors only advertisements, whereas the Bill refers to the conduct and practice of so- called dieting experts at their slimming centres and clinics. Nor could that authority deal with the numerous magazines whose editorial content is an endless assault on the normal shape of normal people.
Obesity certainly exists, but it is not cured by miracle diets. On the contrary, the evidence is that the preoccupation with unnatural slimness is itself the cause of a great deal of physical as well as psychological illness. It cannot be a coincidence that the number of people reported to have a serious eating disorder has grown so rapidly over the past 20 years. Of course, not everyone who starts dieting ends up with an eating disorder, but everyone with an eating disorder started by dieting.
There is all the difference in the world between public health policies which promote healthy eating and a diet industry which promotes an obsession with dieting. Yesterday I bought a batch of magazines from the corner newsagent, which were on sale to all and sundry. They promise, "You can be 14 lb lighter in four weeks" or "Lose a stone in a month" and offer "50 top tips for the new you". What can possibly be wrong with requiring the sellers of this stuff to warn readers of the risks attendant on such promises?
The diet industry thrives on its failure. American figures show that 97 per cent. of the people who diet put any lost weight back on and probably lose self-esteem in the process. The industry spends 13 per cent. of sales revenue on advertising, endlessly stimulating demand for a product that seldom works.
The Minister's announcement that the prescription of amphetamines for slimming is to be banned is very welcome, as is the promise of stiffer penalties for doctors who breach the rule. Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States have stricter regimes for regulation than we do.
There is clearly a strong measure of cross-party support for the Bill and a belief that action must be taken. I hope that, as an expression of that determination, the House will give this practical and important Bill a Second Reading.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Tom Sackville): I congratulate the hon. Member for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon)on introducing this important Bill, which certainly merits discussion.
I welcome something that we seldom hear from the hon. Lady, namely her praise for the Government's initiative on amphetamines. She also praised many parts of the media, which is something she also does but rarely. She included the Bolton Evening News , my excellent local newspaper, which did an enormous amount of work on this subject some months ago and came up with numerous
Column 1356examples of people who had been damaged by slimming mania and specifically by amphetamine or amphetamine-like substances. The Government are concerned that industry, including that which claims to aid weight loss, is properly regulated. We are also concerned to ensure that consumers are not misled by inaccurate or misleading claims about products, that they have sufficient information to make an informed choice and that the products themselves are safe. Our philosophy is therefore very much in tune with the good intentions of the Bill in as much as both seek to protect the public.
I understand very well the concerns that have prompted the Bill, but I am confident that when I have explained the broader picture surrounding the whole issue hon. Members will question the necessity of the Bill's provisions.
Obesity among men and women is a serious and growing problem in this country. People's personal appearance is a matter for them, of course, and the Government would not seek to influence such choices, but when people's personal weight becomes a risk to their health more generally it becomes a matter of concern to the national health service. Obesity contributes to raised plasma cholesterol and raised blood pressure and is a risk factor for both coronary heart disease and stroke--two major causes of premature death in the UK--as well as for diabetes, gall-stones, as the hon. Member for Halifax mentioned, arthritis and a number of other less well known conditions. For that reason, the problem of rising obesity as it is clinically defined has to be addressed, which is why a target for reducing the prevalence was included in the coronary heart disease and stoke section of the White Paper, "The Health of the Nation". At the time those targets were set, the figures showed that 8 per cent. of men and 12 per cent. of women were obese. The latest position, portrayed by the recent report from the Health Survey for England, showed that those figures have increased to 13 per cent. for men and 16 per cent. for women. Regardless of whether the two sets of figures are exactly comparable, they show a fairly alarming increase.
Perhaps it would be helpful at this stage if I defined exactly what we mean by obese, which was touched on by the hon. Member for Dulwich (Ms Jowell). It is a matter of having a body mass index of greater than 30. If I may explain further, body mass index is calculated by dividing an individual's weight, expressed in kilograms, by the square of his or her weight in metres.
Mr. Timothy Wood (Stevenage): Height in metres.
Mr. Sackville: I am so sorry. I should have said height in metres. It was worth having a Whip within earshot.
Just to clarify matters for hon. Members who do not understand those European terms, obesity would therefore mean a woman of 5 ft 6 in having a weight of more then 13 stone or a man of 6 ft having a weight of more than 15 stone. I will not try to define what my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold) described as structurally challenged, but perhaps he will give us his own definition of what he may have meant.
Column 1357Mr. Jacques Arnold: I felt that it would be excessively cruel to ask which of the sponsors of the Bill could be referred to as fat, and "structurally challenged" seemed fashionably correct on the Labour Benches.
Mr. Sackville: Well, now we know.
It is important to make the distinction between the term clinical obesity and people whom the Bill seeks to protect--victims who believe that they are overweight when very often they are not at all. I have already explained that there are good medical and health reasons for concern about being overweight. I should also point that the problem of increasing obesity is not confined to this country but is prevalent throughout the developed world. It is a serious problem with no easy solutions and for those reasons, as I have already mentioned, we must address it.
The nutrition task force was created to devise a strategy for achieving the diet and nutrition targets in "The Health of the Nation" White Paper, which included a target for obesity. It was proposed that, in the first instance, attention should be particularly directed towards the prevention of obesity. As overweight and obesity result from taking in more energy from food than that expended on physical activity, exercise is required to address the problem. The nutrition task force also agreed that action to achieve the targets should be considered jointly with the physical activity task force.
People could be forgiven for thinking that if the problem is caused by eating more than one needs for daily activity, the solution is simple--to eat less and to be active. We know, however, that it is not so easy as it sounds. One of the main contentions behind the Bill is that diets, in the sense of diets for weight loss, do not always work. Many diets help people to lose weight, but the problem lies in keeping the weight off in the long term. That is why the two task forces decided on a preventive approach both to help to prevent the population as a whole from getting fatter and to target help at those groups of the population most at risk from obesity.
As a first step, a symposium of experts was convened last year. Those attending were asked to suggest courses of action to prevent further rises in levels of obesity. The symposium considered trends in obesity in the United Kingdom, the factors controlling energy imbalance and the potential contribution that might be made by local authorities, schools, industry, the NHS and everyone else concerned. Consideration is currently being given to the future course of action to be taken within the task forces for improving dietary habits, together with the strategy of the task force on physical activity aimed at increasing levels of physical activity. One important point that we have identified is the need for more research into long-term solutions.
To turn to the central matter of the Bill, we must always make the important distinction between medically desirable weight, which forms the basis of Government advice, and cosmetically desirable weight. What is commonly portrayed as being cosmetically desirable is often thinner than what would be considered medically desirable. It is also true that the long -term efficacy of relatively short-term proprietary slimming products has rarely been demonstrated. Just as it is not healthy to be overweight, it is not healthy to be underweight. By not eating enough for the body's needs and becoming
Column 1358underweight, people may not be getting all the nutrients that they need from their food and they run the risk of suffering ill health as a result.
I agree with everything that the hon. Member for Halifax said about the pernicious influence of the fashion industry, especially through magazines and television. Obsession with weight has been a problem at various times in history, but it is probably much more of a problem in the age of the mass media, with the power of television and the power of attractive and cleverly presented magazines. I remember reading in the press of a recent survey which said that a certain percentage--it may have been 60 per cent.- -of women reading a well-known mass weekly magazine became severely stressed after three minutes of looking at the various role models in front of them. Whether or not that is an exaggeration, there is no doubt that there is a powerful wave coming all the time, particularly at women, telling people that they need to be thinner. We must consider such attitudes dangerous.
My hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Lady Olga Maitland) mentioned putting an end to all this and to the various quack medicines and products. I am not sure that we shall be able to put an end to them. We are really asking people to change their attitudes to themselves. We are asking for a complete alteration in the way in which people look at themselves, in their relationships with others and in their self-esteem. That is a very tall order and I am afraid that it is a problem much wider than the provisions in the Bill. It makes sense, therefore, for people to try to be sensible and to maintain a healthy weight in relation to their height. The best way to do that is simply by eating a healthier diet and by participating in some form of regular exercise. That message form the cornerstone of Government advice on the issue. However, those ideas, especially those concerning diet and exercise, are not welcome to a large part of the population, and although enormous activity has been generated over the past two or three years by our White Paper, "The Health of the Nation", in the end we still need an enormous shift in national attitudes to get people to realise that their health and how they look after their bodies is to some extent their own responsibility. Even in terms of the Bill there needs to be a great change in the way in which people view themselves and their weight. The Bill's use of the term "diet" suggests that it should be interpreted as a food regimen for weight loss, but diet should really be considered as involving the way in which we eat in everyday life. Diet is not something that we go on or off, but a vital part of our whole lives. It rather worries me that the Bill appears to be based on the premise that a large proportion of the people professionally involved in slimming, other than medically qualified practitioners, are various sorts of charlatan. Although we know that many people active in the slimming industry could be described in that way, we must be careful to distinguish between good and bad advice. The activities of many professionals well qualified to advise individuals on diet and nutrition would undoubtedly be restricted. Dieticians and nutritionists are obvious examples, but there are others who play a vital role--
Column 1359Mrs. Mahon: May I point out to the Minister that the dieticians and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain support the Bill? Most of the professionals involved with dieting support it.
Mr. Sackville: I appreciate and welcome that fact in terms of the spirit of the Bill, but we must be careful when we talk about the slimming industry. I have had some experience of that this week following an announcement that I made about amphetamines. We must be careful not to lump everybody into the same pot. Dieticians, nutritionists and others with a role to play in assisting people with dietary matters--such as pharmacists, nurses, midwives, health visitors, dentists, practitioners of other profession allied to medicine, or health promotion specialists--are all active in giving people the right advice about diet and exercise, and sometimes about weight loss. In order to help to achieve "The Health of the Nation" targets a project team from the nutrition task force has drawn up a core curriculum in nutrition for the education of health professionals, which was published last year.
The Bill does not refer to the activities of a group of people who, as many hon. Members have said, are especially culpable--doctors who set up private slimming clinics so that they can prescribe addictive amphetamine-type products to assist with weight loss. As the House knows, I have announced that we are considering a ban on amphetamine-type slimming pills under section 62 of the Medicines Act 1968, and intend to consult on the topic. We are considering action because we know that many qualified practitioners are prescribing inappropriately, although legally, slimming pills which were not designed for people who are, or who believe themselves to be, slightly overweight. The pills contain substances licensed for various purposes, including treating people with moderate or severe obesity, as defined earlier in my speech. In terms of the Bill and also the proposals which I announced this week, we must make sure that there is a distinction between people who are properly using certain substances to help people with a real clinical problem, and those people who are using it to make money and prescribing entirely inappropriately.
The Bill proposes that any book, recording or video produced would need to state that permanent weight loss is unlikely and cannot be guaranteed. I am sure that hon. Members will not need me to describe the regulatory machinery that such a provision would entail. The Act resulting from any such Bill would also oblige anyone giving advice to provide--
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Morris): Order.
It being half-past Two o'clock, the debate stood adjourned. Debate to be resumed on Friday 28 April.
Order for Second Reading read.
Second Reading deferred till Friday 28 April.
Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Second Reading [20 January].
Debate to be resumed on Friday 21 April.
Debate to be resumed on Friday 21 April.
Order for Second Reading read.
Second Reading deferred till Friday 21 April.
Order for Second Reading read.
Second Reading deferred till Friday 21 April.
Order for Second Reading read.
Second Reading deferred till Friday 21 April.
Second Reading deferred till Friday 21 April.
Read a Second time.
Motion made and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 61 (Committal of Bills),
That the Bill be committed to a Committee of the whole House.-- [Mr. Austin-Walker.]
Question agreed to.
Committee on Friday 21 April.
That Mr. John Horam be discharged from the Committee of Public Accounts and Mr. Peter Thurnham be added to the Committee.--[ Mr. Wood. ]
That, at the sitting on Tuesday 4th April, the Speaker shall put the Question on the Motion in the name of Mr. Tony Blair relating to the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations 1995 not later than one and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings thereon; and the said Motion may be entered upon and proceeded with, though opposed, after Ten o'clock.--[ Mr. Wood. ]
Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.-- [Mr. Wood.]
Mr. Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock): This debate relates to the dangers to health caused by the use of lindane, but it also concerns other pesticides in the organochloride and organophosphorus groups which are increasingly used in the home, agriculture and manufacturing. One example to which I shall refer at a later stage is permethrin, which was sprayed on 8 October 1991 in the Grays benefit office where my constituent Cassy Stanton worked. She was in the early stages of pregnancy. I shall return to her case in a moment. As well as Cassy Stanton coming to my surgery, I was prompted to raise the issue of these chemicals by articles in the journal of the agricultural workers section of the Transport and General Workers Union, of which I am a sponsored Member of the House. I was also prompted by the effective and legitimate lobby by the Greenetwork, and influenced by a number of broadcasts, including Central Television's "Earth Dwellers Guide" which was presented by Philip Tibbenham on 21 August 1993, Channel 4's powerful "Dispatches" programme on 30 November 1994 and a number of small, but not unimportant, items broadcast on "Farming Today". These broadcasts, together with the contents of other programmes, have prompted me to raise the issue of lindane and similar pesticides in the House. Since my debate appeared on the Order Paper, it has surprised but reassured me to realise that many hon. Members are worried about the matter. Many hon. Members from both sides of the House have approached me in the past few days. My hon. Friends the Members for Morley and Leeds, South (Mr. Gunnell), for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing), for Bristol, East (Ms Corston) and for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon) would have been here for the debate, but for overriding pressing commitments in their constituencies.
It is also significant that the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) has recently asked questions from the Liberal Benches about the matter. Last, but by no means least, the hon. Member for Holland with Boston (Sir R. Body) has consistently and vigorously drawn attention to his anxieties about the dangers arising from the widespread use of agricultural pesticides over a number of years.
My hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd, South-West (Mr. Jones) approached me last night and drew to my attention the fact that he had an Adjournment debate on the use of lindane on 28 February 1989. It followed the tabling of early-day motion 143, signed by 117 hon. Members. In that debate he was supported by the hon. Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. Bellingham) and my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Mr. Lofthouse). Significantly, on that occasion a reply was given by the Under-Secretary of State for Employment. I raise that point because responsibility for and interest in lindane ranges across Departments. In the past few days I have tabled questions to the Departments of Employment and of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Department for Education and the Department of the Environment. Arguably, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster also
Column 1363has responsibility for lindane when he has his science hat on. That is important in view of my desire to persuade the Minister that the Government have not got to grips with properly examining in a range of programmes the extent of and dangers implicit in the use of Lindane and comparable chemicals.
Lindane is a potent insecticide and a dangerous organochloride. It is in the same family as DDT and has similar properties in as much as it is absorbed and accumulates in body fat and inevitably gets into the food chain. Such chemicals do not easily break down in the body. They are highly persistent.
As members of the public and as workers, we encounter Lindane in a number of forms. It can be odourless and colourless. It can be a solid, a white powder, a liquid or in the smoke-bomb fumigator variety. It is used in soil treatment against insect pests. It is used in the production of animal feeds. It is widely used in sugar beet production areas.
Lindane or similar chemicals are used in sheep dips, and workers are involved in what is described as bucket chemistry because they have to mix their own chemicals. The use which particularly caused me anxiety on watching the broadcast was in timber protection. Often, lofts are sprayed with lindane as a condition of mortgages. I point that out to the Minister and ask him to pause and consider that many of us simply do not know whether we are exposed to the chemical. We go into pubs, schools, homes or any other variety of buildings which might have been sprayed recently with lindane or comparable chemicals. We would not know that we were so exposed.
We absorb lindane by breathing the gas and vapours. It goes straight into the lungs and into the bloodstream. Fine dust can follow the same route. Larger particles are trapped in the nasal passages or the mucus escalator of the bronchial tubes. It is not necessary to have direct contact with the chemical. It can be swallowed because food and water can be contaminated directly by exposure to lindane. Lindane can be absorbed into the air. It mixes with food and water.
Lindane can also be absorbed by touching the product. I am particularly concerned about unskilled and untrained workers who have to handle the product in the timber industry or in the application of the pesticide to timbers in lofts.
One amazing fact is that, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the use of lindane in lofts where bats might reside is forbidden, because it might kill them, yet there is no similar embargo on its use where human beings congregate.
Lindane accumulates in body fat and can stay there a long time after exposure. While I acknowledge that, as is the case with many diseases, some people are more susceptible or sensitive to the effects of chemicals than others, and that some people suffer no ill-effects, nevertheless far too many people have experienced one or more of the following disorders following exposure to lindane. One of the most serious is aplastic anaemia, which is a form of leukaemia and is a killer. There is substantial evidence to show that lindane also causes damage to the nervous system, and provokes headaches, convulsions and loss of limb movement, as well as mental illness, anxiety,