Residents living on a housing estate which could be partially demolished because of concerns the land contains toxic chemicals last night told of their fears that the contamination may have made them ill.
Two hundred people living in the Whitmore Reans area of Wolverhampton have had their gardens tested for traces of the hazardous chemical carbon disulphide and 20 have been told their houses may need to be knocked down to clean up the land.
All of the householders live near the former Courtaulds factory site, which was used to manufacture the synthetic fibre rayon. The factory was closed in the early 1970s and was bought by Akzo Nobel, a healthcare manufacturing company, in 1998.
Despite assurances from the city council that the pollution does not pose a risk to health, some residents said they were not convinced.
Diane Alexander, a 57-year-old nurse who moved into her home in Cromer Gardens more than 30 years ago, said she had been plagued by kidney problems for years.
"I am worried as they have got no known medical test cases for this. I have a lot of kidney problems and I cannot find a specific pathological link," she said.
She claimed her friend worked in a hospital laboratory and had noticed a link between people living in the area and sufferers of similar kidney problems.
She said: "When it first came out, she asked me if it was on my estate and said 'we have an awful lot of people from the Whitmore Reans area with kidney problems' which may be because there are a lot of Asian or Caribbean people in the area, but you never know.
"At the end of the day chemicals are chemicals and you do not know what effect they may have."
Both Mrs Alexander and her 62-year-old husband John, a retired chef, said they would be sad if they had to leave the area.
She said: "I moved into my house on December 6, 1975. Outside was just garden rubble. I was just really pleased to get a house with a beautiful garden for the children to play in and be safe.
"I was literally the first one on the estate and my house used to be next to the racecourse. It was quite nice because I used to sit and talk to the jockeys.
"The neighbourhood is so nice. There has only been one neighbour who has fallen out with anybody and only three people have moved out of the street in 30 years, so it is a big shame."
Akzo Nobel will be working with Wolverhampton City Council to develop a scheme to remove the chemical.
The council has sent a letter to 600 homes asking residents for their opinions while it seeks legal and technical advice.
Coun Roger Lawrence, leader of the council, said: "Since Akzo Nobel first approached the council last year regarding the possible presence of carbon disulphide, the council has worked very hard to identify precisely the extent of the problem and how it may be resolved to the satisfaction of the residents and the city.
"Like all residents, the council wants to deal with this matter as quickly as possible. We know the presence of carbon disulphide may be affecting the local housing market.
"In considering this proposal, the council has to act in the best interests of the public and that means very carefully weighing up the views of residents and the advice of experts."