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Is building work dust to blame for death of pets?

By Somerset Guardian  |  Posted: April 19, 2013

LizYoung

Liz Young with her two children, Tom and Sophie, in their garden which borders the building site

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A family from Midsomer Norton have questioned whether dust from nearby building work led to the deaths of their pets.

A number of fish and two guinea pigs have died in the garden of Liz Young’s home in Chaffinch Drive, which backs on to a site where developer Linden Homes is putting up 169 houses.

The firm and council environmental health officials deny that dust from rendering work has anything to do with the deaths.

Mrs Young, who lives with her husband and two children complained to the firm after dust from work being carried out at the former Alcan Mardon factory site fell into their garden and pond.

She said the problems started when the rendering work began.

“Three of the koi carp, which we keep in a large pond in our garden, were found dead floating in the pond despite having shown no previous signs of illness or disease.

“Much of the render dust was found around the pond and on the filter covers.”

Last week her ten-year-old son Tom discovered one of his year-old guinea pigs dead in its hutch with another so gravely ill it also later died.

Since then more fish have also died.

She added: “I am now very concerned about the health of my children, myself and my husband, my remaining pets and that of my neighbours.”

She has been visited by a Linden Homes official but says she is unhappy at the firm’s response and reassurances.

Mrs Young is now trying to keep the family’s cats inside, as she is expecting another home close to her property to be rendered soon.

“It would seem that my little voice isn’t enough to make a difference.

“As a parent it is very upsetting to have to explain to my two heartbroken children why their pets appear to have died needlessly, especially when no one else in a position of authority seems to care or want to acknowledge this issue.

“It would be devastating for another family to have to suffer the losses we have had to endure.”

'NO EVIDENCE OF DANGER'

Cement rendering is the application of a premixed layer of sand and cement to brick, cement, stone or mud brick.

It is often textured, coloured or painted after application. It is generally used on exterior walls but can be used to feature an interior wall.

The Somerset Guardian contacted Linden Homes to try to find out the details of the product being used at Midsomer Norton.

The firm would not give the specific details relating to the product.

But Clive Wiltshire, managing director of Linden Homes Western, said the firm was sorry about the set of circumstances.

“We were extremely sorry to learn of the death of the pets. On being contacted by the family, our site manager immediately visited the family to discuss their concerns.

“As a responsible house builder we take health and safety very seriously, and all of the products we use conform to, and often exceed, current legislation.

“The render product used at our Midsomer Norton site is used extensively and safely throughout the construction industry.

“It is an odourless powder containing cement, granular materials and small quantities of additives, which is mixed with water and applied.

“Mixing is carried out a safe distance from the neighbouring properties.

“A member of our health and safety team has visited the site and found that there was no apparent evidence of render material or indeed general dust, on or near the boundary fence or vegetation.”

Linden reduced the number of homes from 176 to 169 two years ago.

At that stage the level of business space on the former factory site was doubled, taking new office space on the site to 1,000sq metres.

The hope was that the extra space would create more jobs in the town.

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