Examination of Witnesses (Questions 457-459)|
7 FEBRUARY 2007
Q457Chairman: Good morning and thank you for
coming. The session is being web cast. I am Lady Finlay and I
chair this Select Committee inquiry. There is a paper declaring
the interests of the members of the Committee so we will not be
reiterating those as we go round today. I would like to start
by inviting you to introduce yourselves and then we will start
asking questions. Would you like to start, Mr Bryson?
Mr Bryson: Good morning. My name is John Bryson
and I am here representing the Chartered Institute of Environmental
Health. I am the Chairman of their Policy Development Board and
recently chaired a commission on housing renewal.
Dr Harrison: Good morning. I am Paul Harrison,
Director of the Institute of Environment and Health at Cranfield
University. I am a toxicologist interested in the interactions
between environmental factors and human health.
Mr Ager: Good morning. I am Grant Ager, Director
of Fairfield Housing Cooperative in Perth who commissioned one
of the first allergy homes in the UK.
Professor Custovic: Good morning, I am Professor
Adnan Custovic. I am Professor of Allergy at the University of
Q458 Chairman: I would like to start
by asking all of you how allergic diseases such as hayfever, perennial
allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma and atopic eczema impact on
the quality of life of sufferers.
Professor Custovic: Obviously talking about
life threatening diseases like anaphylaxis is quite easy but what
I would like to emphasise is the enormous impact that a disease
as simple as hayfeverallergic rhinitiscan have on
quality of life of sufferers. Let us not forget that this is a
disease that affects almost a quarter of our children and young
adults. A lot of people in primary care in particular would say
that it is just a little bit of sneezing and runny nose. I put
to you that it is much more than a bit of sneezing and runny nose.
Some fabulous recent evidence from the UK suggests that children
with hayfever are twice as likely to drop grades in their GCSEs
as compared to children without hayfever. If, on top of that,
they take sedating antihistamines for the treatment of the disease
this risk goes up three fold, so you may be two to three fold
more likely to drop a grade between the mock exams in December
to the real exams in June when the hayfever season kicks in. That
is much, much more than a simple case of sneezing and a runny
nose. Clearly not only can it affect the way you feel, but it
can affect the long term prospects in life of quite a substantial
proportion of our children. Let us not forget that all the major
exams take place exactly during the time of the year when pollen
levels are highest. This is not a disease to sneeze at.
Q459 Chairman: Can I ask if our other
witnesses want to add anything to that?
Dr Harrison: I would just add that it can be
debilitating in the sense that a child with asthma or allergic
rhinitis is likely to opt out of sporting activities so not only
might it affect their learning abilities but also their well-being
in the sense of being fit.