New health row after chemical find near homes

A CHEMICAL which can harm foetal development has been found on a Motherwell housing estate, but North Lanarkshire Council has rubbished a suggestion it could be at dangerous levels.

Collins Solicitors, investigating claims of toxic materials on the site of the former Metropolitan Vickers site, say preliminary analysis has revealed toluene in the air.

Toluene is a toxic ingredient in solvents, paints, and other household products including shoe polish, which is also found in car exhausts and cigarettes.

The lawyers have not revealed what volume of toluene they found in the samples or its source, but due to its many uses it is normally found at around between one and four parts per million in the air.

Extreme exposure to toluene can affect the nervous system in humans and has caused foetal malformations in experimental animals.

Low to moderate levels can cause tiredness, confusion, weakness, drunken-type actions, memory loss, nausea, loss of appetite, and hearing and colour vision loss.

Des Collins, senior partner at Collins Solicitors, said: “We are rapidly reaching a point where North Lanarkshire Council will have to admit that a number of the houses on Forum Place and Tiber Avenue were insufficiently remediated prior to being built, and that the houses are not currently fit for purpose.”

Last year the council’s own contractors found the industrial solvent trichloroethylene on open ground near Forum Place, but the council has now told Collins to stop scaremongering about toluene.

A council spokesman said: “Once again Collins Solicitors have sought to inflame the very real fears of residents.

“TCE was indeed found in the open space adjacent to Forum Place, but it is simply bad science to infer that the presence of toluene or other ‘chlorinated compounds’ in air samples is linked to alleged health conditions.”

Full story in March 24 edition of Motherwell Times.