A TEAM of scientists will be working around the clock throughout the Commonwealth Games to ensure the safety of all involved.

The staff from Glasgow Scientific Services will be involved with virtually every aspect of the sporting extravaganza.

They will monitor air quality and drinking water and carry out food monitoring around Games venues.

Staff will also be on hand to take action in the event of an outbreak of food poisoning.

But the team, which operates out of its laboratory in Colston, in the north of the city, will also be responsible for ensuring the athletes are protected.

Gary Walker, scientific and regulation services manager, is also responsible for trading standards.

He said: "We will monitor swimming pools - not only those that are part of the Games competitions but those being used for training purposes."

The triathlon at Strath­clyde Country Park involves the athletes competing in open water swimming, cycling and running.

Mr Walker said: "We are now monitoring surface water quality at Strathclyde Park and will continue to do so."

His team can also be called out by the emergency services in the event of what he calls "a blue light incident".

That can be anything from an overturned lorry spilling chemicals to a leak from a factory to the discovery of an unidentified white powder or hazardous materials.

Mr Walker said: "We will also carry out consumer protection safety tests. There will be lots of Games-related products being sold and there is obviously a potential for Games products that are not official. We can check the safety of them, whether that is a Clyde mascot toy or any other spin-off."

"Trading standards will be very much focused on the days before, during and after the Games when there are cultural events.

"There are limits on where people can trade to protect the Commonwealth Games brand. Staff will patrol the last mile to the venues and may have to respond to a venue that is displaying something it shouldn't.

"There will be issues trading standards officers will have to deal with during the Games, but there is legislation in place to make sure everything is fair.

"We have operated very successfully at concerts by Robbie Williams and also events for the Papal visit, but they were one-off events.

"The Games will be very different, with nine venues and multi-activities in one day but the trading standards officers are well organised. They have a huge role to play and will be very focused from 6am until midnight.

"It is a massive challenge, but it does not daunt us because we are well set up to deal with events like this.

"We expect to see an increased level of activity in June, July and August, but we will be ready for it."

Glasgow Scientific Services carries out work for half of Scotland's 32 councils, but Mr Walker insists the Games will have to take priority.

He said: "All our partner councils understand we will have to shift resources about.

"We have plans in place if we get swamped with so much work that we are having to work 24 hours a day and can't cope.

"That would be down to extreme circumstances and although it has never happened, there has to be a plan in place."

The closest the service came to being swamped with work was during the ICL/Stockline plastics factory explosion in May 2004 when staff worked 24 hours a day for four days.

The explosion resulted in nine people being killed and 33 injured, 15 seriously.

Like many people in Glasgow this year, Mr Walker has no hope of getting a holiday during the summer.

But he said: "The Games are not going to happen again in Glasgow in my lifetime, so it is a great thing to be involved in.

"I will not get time off during the school holidays, but it is just one year and we need to be on standby for anything that might happen.

"We will be open for business as usual right up to and during the Games. If something happens we will respond accordingly and our staff will be ready."

vivienne.nicoll@ eveningtimes.co.uk