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GRENFELL justice activists brought traffic to a standstill today in a protest against the continuing presence of toxicity in the area around the tower that was devastated by fire two years ago.
Activists dressed in hazmat suits and surgical masks were demonstrating against the “lying” authorities after a number of cancer-causing chemicals were found in the air and soil.
The horrific tower block tragedy in June 2017 killed 72 people after the combustible aluminium composite cladding covering the building caught fire.
A two-minute silence was observed in memory of the victims before the protesters stepped onto roads at the traffic lights of the busy Shepherd’s Bush Roundabout with banners that read “intoxicated by lies” and “tick toxic time.”
Some pedestrians applauded and motorists sounded horns in support while others yelled and cursed at the demonstrators. One man called the activists “terrorists” and told them to “get a job.”
Kensington Residents’ Alliance organiser Elizabeth Harington Stravoravdis said she was mainly there as a mother concerned about children in the local North Kensington area.
She said: “A lot of us are concerned. We have noticed our health deteriorating after the fire, and seen many others with deteriorating health.
“We want to make sure that no more people die from preventable deaths here. This visual effect protest today is a way for us to vent our frustration with Public Health England and the authorities who have lied to us and said our air is safe.”
Ms Stravoravdis said many more peaceful protests would follow.
Justice 4 Grenfell’s Moyra Samuels said that residents and activists were exasperated with the authority’s “obfuscation and denial” of their concerns over the toxins.
She said: “The community asked very simple questions about the risks, and were told categorically that there is nothing to worry about, all we needed to do is wash our hands and wash the vegetables if we grow them.
“This is quite scandalous that the community has been fobbed off by what we consider false reassurances.”
Ms Samuels said people were concerned that the effects of the chemicals on health may not be fully apparent for a number of years.
A study uncovered “significant environmental contamination” in the surrounding area, and researchers concluded that there was an increased risk of health problems including cancer and asthma.
Researchers discovered cancerous chemicals in samples taken a month after the fire from the balconies of buildings situated within 100 metres of Grenfell Tower – that is owned by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Soil and debris samples were analysed by a team at the University of Central Lancashire from six locations up to three quarters of a mile away from the tower, one and six months after the blaze.
Samples of dust and liquid were also collected from a flat 160 metres away from the tower after 17 months.
Samples collected within 140m of the tower showed cancer-causing dioxins 60 times greater than British urban reference soil levels, benzene levels 40 times greater, and levels of six polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons approximately 160 times greater.
Hydrogen cyanide and synthetic vitreous fibres were present in both soil and debris, according to the study published in the Chemosphere journal.
“Further analysis around the tower is necessary to understand possible health risks,” the study said.
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