Public Health advice following the Grenfell Tower tragedy

Advice on air quality and smoke exposure

Public Health England has been assessing air quality in relation to the Grenfell Tower tragedy and this shows a minimal wider risk to public health as a result of the fire’s smoke plume. People who have been close to the scene and exposed to smoke from the fire may have experienced irritation to the lining of the air passages, the skin and the eyes, and respiratory symptoms including coughing and wheezing, breathlessness, phlegm production and chest pain. People who have concerns about their symptoms should seek medical advice from their GP or call NHS 111. 

For more information see also Public Health advice: air quality and asbestos

Advice on odour 

The human nose is very sensitive to odours and often detects chemicals at concentrations in air which pose no risk to health, however they can be unpleasant and affect well-being. Odours can cause a nuisance to people and may lead to stress and anxiety. Some people may experience symptoms such as nausea, headaches or dizziness as a reaction to odours even when the substances that cause those smells are themselves not harmful to health.

Advice on face masks

As far as possible, exposure to airborne pollutants, such as dust, should be avoided by preventing or minimising exposure. Public Health England does not recommend wearing face masks for the general public as a method of reducing exposure to air pollution as it is not clear that they would be effective in reducing exposure. Masks can be uncomfortable to use and can worsen symptoms in people with heart and lung conditions as they may find it harder to breathe. Caution is therefore advised when using masks and their use by the public outside of the cordon is not recommended.

Waste materials and clean up

Information from the London Fire Brigade and Council indicates that the majority of debris in surrounding areas consists of charred foam insulation. This material is unlikely to present a threat to people’s health, however precautionary advice for residents is to not handle any waste material or debris from the fire as it may present a physical hazard. 

Street cleansing in the area outside of the cordoned off zone, has been carried out by the Council and continues on a daily basis. The Council is currently working on a plan for clearance within the cordoned off zone, in partnership with other agencies. 

If you have waste material or debris from the fire at your property, please contact the Council on 020 7361 3001 and we will make arrangements to collect it.

Further guidance for people affected is available online.