Dozens of housing estate residents have launched legal proceedings over claims their homes were built on contaminated land.

Lawyers said some of the residents in and around the estate off Watling Street in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, suffer from a number of health complaints caused by exposure to "neuro-toxic vapours".

They claim the properties were built on land that was not properly decontaminated after it fell out of industrial use and have raised 42 separate civil actions with the courts, representing a total of 78 people.

They are asking for the alleged contamination to be properly fixed and are seeking damages for an amount not yet specified, lawyers confirmed.

Collins Solicitors, representing the families, said the action is being brought against North Lanarkshire Council, City Link Development Company Ltd and Scott Wilson (Scotland) Ltd.

Households which include social housing tenants have raised proceedings against either Lanarkshire Housing Association (LHA) or Clyde Valley Housing Association.

The legal firm said it has maintained for more than two years that the properties were built on land that was "not fully remediated following a history of heavy industrial use".

The former site had handled and processed metals and chemicals. Materials said to have been found at the site include trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE) polychloranated biphenols and polyaromatic hydrocarbons.

Air testing at 25 of the properties last year also confirmed that levels of toxic material in the indoor air were higher than the acceptable levels set out by the World Health Organisation (WHO), lawyers said.

The recent legal developments come after an initial "test case" was filed in July, against LHA, on behalf of Angela and Robert McManus.

The case, being dealt with by the same legal firm, centres around similar claims - that the land's previous incarnation as a location for factories and industrial plants is behind health issues at the estate.

The McManus case was said to have been called last week at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, raising hopes that a timetable for the action will begin to take shape.

For legal reasons, the firm has had to formally raise the 41 other legal proceedings at the court. However, lawyers hope that the court will agree to "park" the other actions until the McManus test case has been heard and resolved.

In it, they hope to determine that harmful substances are, have been or will be present in the air of properties on the Watling Street site and that the substances have an adverse effect on people's health.

Des Collins, senior partner of Collins Solicitors, said: "All along we have warned that if the residents of this estate in Motherwell were not able to secure voluntary remediation of the site, legal action would follow.

"These properties are unfit for human habitation and, given the intransigence of those named today as defenders, the time has come for us to find an immediate solution to the ongoing health problems.

"Each of those named in the joint summonses is responsible for having failed to ensure the redevelopment of the Watling Street site in the 1990s resulted in land suitable and safe for residential use. The housing associations have failed to provide housing fit for human habitation.

"We anticipate that this initial test case will demonstrate the extent of the problem and the need for extensive remediation; and that the additional proceedings issued and served on behalf of Mr and Mrs McManus and the 76 other residents in recent weeks will ensure that the responsibilities of the other defenders in these proceedings are identified."

A spokeswoman for North Lanarkshire Council said: "We note Mr Collins' comments and regret that he is not persuaded of the council's responsible behaviour in this matter which has, to date, included a considerable commitment of public resources.

"Despite this commitment, no public health issues for concern have been identified.

"We look forward to the opportunity of demonstrating the appropriateness of the council's conduct and commitment to the court in due course."