Modern life has been made possible by chemicals. From the acids in batteries to advanced plastics and petroleum fuels, society owes a lot to chemical engineers. But chemistry can damage lives too. All too often, chemicals contaminate the homes of ordinary people, causing health problems and disrupting their lives. If you or your family are suffering unexplained ailments, contamination could be a factor. Here are some well-known possible effects of contamination to keep in mind.
Your Child May Discover Left Over Narcotics
There have been some unfortunate cases of home owners taking over properties that were once drug houses. In one case, a 6 year-old boy started to lose focus in school, exhibit poor sleep patterns and have respiratory issues. Physicians then found that he had methamphetamine levels comparable to a regular drug user. It turned out that his family had occupied an ex-meth lab, and that narcotic substances had leeched into the carpets, walls and chipboard. Authorities believe there could be as many as 7,000 meth labs across Australia, so it's not a minor issue.
Old Industrial Legacies Can Resurface
In other cases, old industry is too blame. A great example is Clovelly Park, a housing development in Adelaide. Residents there complained for years about poor appetite, nausea and headaches, until the local authority admitted that their homes had been built upon a toxic waste dump. The culprit has been isolated as trichloroethylene (TCE), a carcinogenic industrial cleaning product. It seems that local factories used TCE to clean their plants and then dumped it in soil and watercourses nearby, leaving the consequences for the next generation.
Soil Contamination Can Render Gardens Useless
Sometimes, it's not the water or drugs that are the issue, but chemicals in the soil. Lead and cadmium have been identified as particular dangers in areas which used to (or still do) host smelters, while many local authorities are concerned about metals and plastics leaching out of landfill sites as well. In other cases, gardens are simply used as mini-landfills by previous owners, rendering them acutely toxic.
If you suspect your land is contaminated, specialist companies can attend your property and remove the affected soil. They'll not only test the soil for common contaminants, but they will also process any waste for recycling and return later to assess whether their efforts have succeeded.
For those struggling with contaminated water or the aftermath of drug manufacturing, there's less to be done. In Clovelly, residents are moving away. The 6 year-old's family have moved out and the home may be demolished. It's a harsh price to pay for the way people treat urban land, but the risks to human health often make it essential for people to relocate.