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Tuesday, 14 August, 2001, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
Camelford victims' health fears
Nigel Mazlyn-Jones
Victims such as Nigel Mazlyn-Jones fear long-term health problems
When Nigel Mazlyn-Jones' skin started to peel off following a shower in poisoned water he was horrified.

But now he and the other victims face an even bigger fear - that their exposure to the contaminated water could have left them at greater risk of Alzheimer's disease and other serious health problems.

Thousands of homes were affected when a lorry driver accidentally dumped 20 tonnes of aluminium sulphate into the wrong tank at a treatment works, at Camelford, in North Cornwall, in 1988.

Mr Mazlyn-Jones, a member of the Lowermoor Support Group, told the BBC said a public inquiry was vital to ensure everyone concerned gets the information they need.

"We are aware of the world-wide concerns about aluminium sulphate being related to Alzheimer's amongst other problems," he said.

As I rubbed myself like fury while drying a thin layer of skin peeled off like a mild sunburn, but all over the body

Nigel Mazlyn-Jones

Short-term problems

Mr Jones said the first he knew of problems was when his skin started to peel off following a shower.

"I showered in the morning and could not get the soap to lather.

"I reached for a fresh block in a sort of sleep state, like most people are in, in the mornings.

"I rubbed away for a ridiculous length of time and then gave up and got out of the shower and dried myself.

Michael Meacher
Michael Meacher: Investigation will be open and independent

"As I rubbed myself like fury while drying a thin layer of skin peeled off like a mild sun-burn, but all over the body."

Mr Mazlyn-Jones said he hopes the investigation due to be announced by Environment Minister Michael Meacher will allow a full public inquiry into the long-tern health impacts of the contamination.

Aluminium poisoning has been found to cause brain disease, bone disease and anaemia in both animals and humans.

Study findings

A study in 1999 by Dr Paul Altmann, a consultant nephrologist from the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, looked at 55 people who alleged the accident had caused symptoms such as short term memory loss and poor concentration.

They compared the results with their siblings and people from outside the area and found clear evidence that something had damaged their cerebral function.

These findings ran against the findings of a 1989 report from a government health advisory panel led by Professor Dame Barbara Clayton.

However, a second government report in 1991 admitted there could be "unforeseen late consequences".

The victims and their relatives want to see the public inquiry explore all the possible health implications.

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