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What you should know before living on a contaminated land

According to Wiki, a contaminated land contains substances in or under the land that are actually or potentially hazardous to health or the environment. A lot of people stand the risk of living on lands like this without knowing. Here is an opportunity to know.

Areas with a long history of industrial production will have many sites which may be affected by their former uses such as mining, industry, chemical and oil spills and waste disposal. These sites are known as Brownfield Land.

Though the risk associated with living on sites that were previously industrial areas is low, still, contaminated land may portend a hazard to new occupants of such areas and the environment itself. Converting hitherto industrial areas to a residential area might seem like a right choice especially in a country where we have more homeless people than those with a roof over their heads, however it possibly does have its consequences.

That the industries have gone ‘AWOL’ doesn’t mean they don’t have their imprints on the site. Often times, they leave tell-tale marks of them behind, which ensures that such sites have remnants of their contaminants to remind the residents’ of the site’s previous landlords.

Thus, residents of such sites are exposed to the contaminants left behind by the industries merely by inhaling the dust or gas filled air that is the hallmark of the area. Also, constant contact with the soil of the earth especially by kids could have health implications. While for the farmers around such areas, food grown on the land may automatically be poisonous. There may be indirect effects on users such as damage to buildings. Substances can be leached out of the soil to pollute groundwater, rivers or ponds. Some contaminants may be corrosive, and some can cause explosion or fire. The risks could be high, but again, none of it may even happen at all.

For instance, the popular LAWMA controlled Olusosun refuse dump-site in Ojota, where a pungent smell emanates from traveling with the speed of light to both suspecting and unsuspecting nostrils may never be converted to a place of residence because of the amount of pollutants from yesteryears that has gone underground and staked their claims on the surface of the ground there. Tagged Nigeria’s most popular dump-site – though I suspect it is even the biggest and most hazardous dump-site in the country, Olusosun dump-site is a no-go area. I wonder how the scavengers there manage to breathe.

Olusosun is Nigeria's most popular dumpsite

Olusosun is Nigeria’s most popular dumpsite

It’s a red zone for residential apartments.

If such a place falls into disuse or becomes an unsightly wasteland, its only normal that it should be put back into use, albeit not for residential properties.

Many of these sites are usually in central urban locations and when industries depart, their place is usually taken by residential communities.

However, if correctly managed, there is no reason why previously contaminated Brownfield sites cannot be safely occupied for residential use.
Nonetheless, the effects of selling a property that is on a Brownfield site may just be on the value of the property in ‘question’ due to the perceived risk rather than actual effects to the health of new.

Regardless, there is a need to have a good understanding of land contamination when you are moving to a land or an area that was once an industrial site. Hence, possible contamination should be considered when a property on a contaminated land is bought or sold.

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