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Council urged to deep clean home ventilation in Grenfell Tower area

Parliamentary committee raises concerns about potentially toxic contaminants in ventilation of homes near site of fatal tower fire that occurred nearly two years ago

Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee has criticised a failure to implement a deep clean of ventilation systems in homes surrounding Grenfell Tower.

The building was destroyed in June 2017 in a fire that saw a significant loss of life and has raised critical questions over the effectiveness and enforcement of building standards and fire systems.

Environmental Audit Committee chair Mary Creagh has now written to Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council over recent evidence received about the presence of potentially toxic chemical residue from the fire in the ventilation systems of some nearby homes.

Lead Councillor Elizabeth Campbell is now being asked to provide information on steps the local authority has taken to address potential risks of contamination in both homes and the soil around the site, as well as what support there is for residents to potentially remove toxic chemicals.

Ventilation in the area has been identified as a particular concern as part of a broader inquiry by the committee into toxic chemicals in everyday life. This has led to questions over a decision to have not ensured a deep clean of ventilation systems around the site of Grenfell Tower following the fire.

The committee said, “In evidence to the inquiry, Professor Anna Stec, a member of the Science Advisory Group to the government, reported that a hazardous chemical was found in one flat 90 metres away from the tower, 17 months after the fire.”

“Further investigations have revealed potentially toxic fire debris, such as charred insulation, in pieces small enough to enter flats. Professor Stec called for a deep clean of all of the flats in the area around Grenfell, including the extraction systems.”

Mary Creagh said she was astonished that questions concerning possible contamination from toxic chemicals in the area around Grenfell Tower were still being raised nearly two years on.

She said, “Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council must provide answers to evidence, discovered by scientists, of hazardous material in homes around the Grenfell site. People whose lives have been blighted by the tragic events of that night should not be kept waiting for those answers.”

“Given that fire debris such as charred insulation has been found inside flats, there’s an urgent need for the council to carry out a deep clean of ventilation systems where this material might be trapped.

Ms Creagh cited upcoming work by Hammersmith and Fulham Council to start testing soil samples in the area around the tower to look at potential health concerns from the fire.

She added, “We want to know why Kensington and Chelsea is not taking action.”

A statement issued last week by the council said that testing and sampling was underway by scientific experts and government, with air quality in the area being checked continuously.

The authority said that no additional pollution in the air as a result of the Grenfell Tower fire that posed additional health risks had not been detected in testing.

Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council added, “Air quality monitoring has not identified any cause for concern. However, we understand that local people are worried, so the government is testing the soil around Grenfell for possible harmful pollution.”

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