Chapter 20: Providing Advice to those Exposed to Combustion Products
Published:16 Oct 2015
V. Murray, in Toxicology, Survival and Health Hazards of Combustion Products, ed. D. A. Purser, R. L. Maynard, and J. C. Wakefield, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2015, ch. 20, pp. 603-627.
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Coordinating planning and response by emergency services linking to public health and local authorities with the relevant governmental agencies is vital to enable appropriate procedures to implement the best strategies to protect the health of the population—one such of concern is the provisions of advice to those exposed to combustion products. Public health advice relates to sheltering using the message “go in, stay in, tune in” and to evacuation using the message of “get out, stay out and call 999”. This chapter, by describing eight case studies documented by the UK Health Protection Agency, shows that this advice is a complex but poorly researched area. These eight case studies illustrate the dilemmas identified by emergency services in providing the best advice to the public and the difficulties in making decisions in a multi-agency and timely way. Implementing these decisions may also be contentious, particularly when individuals may refuse to leave their homes. It was also noted that this advice is sometimes not shared clearly or well communicated. Many gaps in research are identified on the provisions of advice to those exposed to combustion products, including the need for a systematic study of the evidence base on the provision of advice to those exposed to combustion products and the need for standardised documentation of each event to allow improved assessment of the guidance offered and of its efficacy. It would be useful to broaden this systematic literature review to include all incidents, fire, chemical spills and other events, such as extreme weather events and other natural hazards, where sheltering and evacuation guidance is given to the public.