This ecological study aimed, through the analysis of 1,146 wards in the South West of England (1998-2002), firstly, to examine whether chemical incidents and public casualties are more likely near complex industry (emissions to land, air or water: Integrated Pollution Control industry, IPC) or industry with emissions to air only (Local Air Pollution Control industry, LAPC). Secondly, the study examined whether industry, incidents and casualties are found close to deprivation. Social inequalities were examined across quintiles of wards. Fifty-two wards (4.5%) contained an IPC industry and 712 (62.1%) an LAPC. Incidents occurred in 132 wards (11.5%), with casualties in 59 (5.1%). Chemical incidents occurred more frequently in wards with LAPC (152, IPC 20); the same was true of casualties (211, 12). With each additional LAPC site in a ward, the risk of an incident rose by 22% (95% confidence interval [CI] 8-38%), suggesting a dose-response relationship. No clear social inequalities were found. In the South West of England, the public are more likely to be affected by an incident occurring at a simple LAPC site rather than a complex IPC site. This has implications for emergency planning which, at present, focusses most attention on the larger, more complex IPC sites.
- Chemical incidents
- Social inequalities