Families living in and around the estate are suing Lanarkshire Housing Association with a view to securing remediation of the land on which their homes are built.
Collins Solicitors, which represents 43 of the families, has issued proceedings at the Scottish Court of Session in Edinburgh today on behalf of Angela McManus and her husband Robert.
Angela, 41, has lived on the site off Watling Street in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, since 2000 when her house was first built. Robert, 33, moved there in 2004. They have a three-year-old daughter, Sophie.
As previously reported in the Evening Times, Collins Solicitors has maintained for two years that the properties were built on land that was not fully remediated following a history of heavy industrial use.
Ground testing on the site, both by North Lanarkshire Council and experts appointed by Collins Solicitors, has confirmed the presence of levels of trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and other toxic solvents.
In addition, air testing at 25 of the properties in June and July 2011 confirmed that levels of toxic material in the indoor air were far higher than acceptable levels set out by the World Health Organisation.
The houses were built between 1998 and 2001, adjacent to a former landfill site.
The estate is also near the former site of a factory which made instrument panels for fighter planes during the Second World War and produced harmful waste products.
Residents claim to suffer from a number of health complaints which Collins Solicitors say are caused by exposure to neuro-toxic vapours – which also increases cancer risk.
Angela said: "I started to really notice health problems in myself in 2004. First of all it was just that I felt disorientated and absolutely exhausted. It was obvious there was something just not quite right.
"The first problems Robert had were frequent nosebleeds. It was as if his nose just burst, sometimes every day for a while, then it would just go away for a spell.
"He went on to develop asthma and chest problems."
Angela's condition got progressively worse until she moved out of the house a year ago.
She said: "I was feeling sick all the time and started spitting up blood, which went on for most of the last two years.
"The doctors at Wishaw General Hospital said they just couldn't get to the bottom of it. I stopped going back eventually.
"I knew what was causing it. It was living in this house and I had to get out. Once I did, I felt better almost instantly."
When little Sophie started showing signs of illness, Angela was terrified.
"Sophie was frequently sick and had rashes and eczema," she said.
"I realise babies develop all kinds of things, but it was just too much of a coincidence for me.
"I had to move her away and she's been fine since.
"I'm absolutely convinced that there's something under the ground that is causing these health issues. There are a lot of families from this area who have had problems and surely that can't be a coincidence.
"The council can keep calling it scaremongering, but I know what has happened to us is real. I hope the place is cleared up properly and people can live here safely. That's all I want to come from this. The truth, to be taken seriously, and for it to be safe."
Collins Solicitors decided to use Angela's experience as a test case after a site investigation in March in the garden of her Empire Way home.
The firm said the findings concluded that there are significant volumes of toxic contaminants in the soil immediately adjacent to the property which could be harmful to human health.
It is anticipated the court action will result in a single test case which will determine whether "harmful substances are, have been or will be present in vapour form in the indoor air of properties on the Watling Street Site; and that these substances, on the balance of probabilities, are, have or will adversely affect the health of residents and others."
If the case is proven, legal action will likely be taken on behalf of the other 42 families of the estate.
Des Collins, senior partner at Collins, said: "All along we have warned that if the residents were not able to secure voluntary remediation of the site, legal action would follow. The properties are unfit for human habitation – the neuro-toxic vapours are making the residents ill.
"Lanarkshire Housing Association, as landlord to a number of residents on the estate, is responsible for the provision of accommodation which meets basic standards.
"We anticipate that this test case will be sufficient to demonstrate the extent of the problem and the need for extensive remediation.
"There is a possibility other potential defenders will become involved and we have invited North Lanarkshire Council, City Link Development Company and Clyde Valley Housing Association to agree any action against them be put on hold pending the outcome of this case.
"If that agreement is not forthcoming then further proceedings against these parties will follow."
Lanarkshire Housing Association refused to comment.