Lead poisoning is a serious and sometimes fatal condition. Lead is a highly toxic poison which slowly accumulates in the body over a period of months or years. Symptoms and signs of lead poisoning can be varied, affecting many different parts of the body, with even small amounts of lead causing sombre health problems, effecting every one of the body’s organ system, the nervous system, bones and teeth, the kidneys, the cardiovascular, immune and reproductive systems.
Exposure from lead can come from contaminated air, water, soil and consumer products. Children are at more risk of lead poisoning as the lead is absorbed at a faster rate compared to adults, causing more physical harm in their smaller bodies. In adults, lead poisoning is mostly occupation-related. The occupations mainly involved are the smelting, refining, alloying and casting industry, the lead battery industry and the scrap industry.
In September 2012 residents in the villages Coedpoeth and Brymbo were told by Wrexham Council that they needed to test their land for lead contamination.
Two former lead smelters in the village ceased operation in the 1800’s but it is a concern as ground contamination could still remain in the land in Smelt Road, Smelt Lane and Minera Road.
Public Health Wales had since confirmed there had been no cases of lead poisoning or related illnesses since the smelters ceased. However some of the 18 Coedpoeth and Brymbo residents will have to pay more than £10,000 to part-fund remedial works by Wrexham Council.
As the contaminator is no longer alive the law states that the residents are now liable.
In a statement, a Welsh government spokesperson explained that the Environmental Protection Act 1990 states that the appropriate person to pay for the clean-up of contaminated land should be the person who “caused or knowingly permitted” the contamination or, if they are no longer in existence, then it falls to the “current land owner or occupier of the land”.
Some of the unidentified properties are currently up for sale with the owners fearing their house prices have been affected.
Two months of remedial works on 11 properties will begin in March, with dates for the remaining houses having yet to be decided, however it may take years to finally get rid of the potentially toxic lead in their gardens. For now, residents have been given precautionary health advice to minimise any risks to themselves or their families.
For more information on the residential and commercial search types which would alert you to this and many more types of land contamination please contact Erica at [email protected].