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The July 2005 London bombings: environmental monitoring, health risk assessment and lessons identified for major incident response
  1. James Wilson1,
  2. Virginia Murray1,
  3. J Nick Kettle2
  1. 1
    Chemical Hazards and Poisons Division (London), Health Protection Agency, London, UK
  2. 2
    Safety and Health Risk Management Team, Metropolitan Police Service, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Virginia Murray, Chemical Hazards and Poisons Division (London), Health Protection Agency, 7th Floor, Holborn Gate, 330 High Holborn, London WC1V 7PP, UK; Virginia.Murray{at}

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The July 2005 London bombings rapidly resulted in ‘major incidents’ being declared by the emergency services, thereby triggering the three-tier major incident command and control framework used in the UK.1 This framework includes Bronze (operational), Silver (tactical) and Gold (strategic) levels2 with a Strategic Co-Ordinating Group (SCG) which, at the time of the London bombings, was supported by a Health Advice Team (HAT).2 The organisations involved in responding to the London bombings included: Transport for London, London Underground, the emergency services, the NHS, central government and other agencies/organisations including the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

Environmental sampling and analysis play a vital role in informing public and occupational health risk assessments and in influencing the development of incident management strategies. Important lessons related to environmental monitoring and risk assessment were identified during the response to the London bombings, which are discussed here with reference to updated guidance recently issued by the UK Government on major incident management.

In the aftermath of the explosions, hazard profiling was undertaken by the emergency services on the London Underground network, which included visual/photographic inspections of train carriages and airborne asbestos fibre monitoring at Kings Cross, Russell Square, Aldgate, Edgware Road and Covent Garden underground stations (table 1).

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Table 1

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and Peer review Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.