Old dumps and disposal sites can be a serious threat to the health of persons who inhabit or occupy such locations, and as a result, there must be no subdivision of the land at these sites for the construction of residential or commercial buildings. 
This is according to Chief Town Planner, Mark Cummins, who pointed out that according to the Health Services (Building) Regulations, 1969, Cap. 44, Section 5, “a person shall not erect a building on any ground which has been filled with any material impregnated with faecal, animal or vegetable matter, or
upon which any such matter has been deposited, unless in the opinion of the Medical Officer of Health, such matter has been properly removed or rendered innocuous”.   
Mr. Cummins noted that old disposal sites tended to be structurally unstable and prone to fire or even explosion and their occupants may be exposed to hazardous agents via the air or the soil. 
“As the waste in them decays, old dumpsites produce gases consisting of methane, carbon dioxide, water vapour, volatile organic and inorganic compounds. These compounds can include a range of hazardous air pollutants with adverse health effects.
“Gases, such as hydrogen sulphide and ammonia with unpleasant odours, can also be emitted. These odours can cause acute dizziness, faintness, nausea and headaches,” Mr. Cummins explained.
The Chief Town Planner further cautioned that gases might be emitted from below the surface into the air above, where they could harm the environment and human health. “They can reduce or damage vegetative growth. The hazardous pollutants in the gases can be toxic at sufficiently high concentrations and have been linked with respiratory irritation, cancerous illnesses, nervous system damage and low birth weight,” he stressed.
Noting that disposal sites were composed of debris with varying properties, Mr. Cummins pointed out that they were often subject to uneven land settlement, which could damage roads, paths, utilities, foundations and structures on the site.
He also expressed concern about the dangers of asbestos if it was damaged or disturbed by breaking, filing, sanding or cutting.
“Asbestos fibres can be released into the air and inhaled into the lungs. Inhaled asbestos can cause severe health problems, including mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer. These diseases are severely disabling and may be fatal,” Mr. Cummins warned. 
 Disused dumpsites are most commonly approved as open space areas or recreational facilities.

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