SOME said they had little holes in their fingernails or teeth. Others reported breathing problems or high blood pressure. A tragic few developed cancer.

Dutch soldiers who painted planes or tanks with chromium-VI have complaints very familiar to many workers or residents in and around the giant J&J White chemical works on the Clyde.

The old factory, closed in the 1960s, was a huge processor of chromium ore. Its employers were left with chromium holes – lesions on their skin – or missing septums in their noses. Its one-time neighbours have been left with a toxic legacy on their doorstep.

That is because J&J White has left an unknown quantity of waste containing chromium-VI, sometimes called hexavalent chromium. This year The Herald revealed £50 million was needed to clear its site, as a local river, Polmadie Burn, turned jungle green with the substance. Authorities are currently flushing the stream out and promising new tests on nearby land.

READ MORE: British military uses toxic paint on vehicles that leads to cancer

The Dutch soldiers used the chemical in paint, especially camouflaged vehicles, including American ones on Nato duties. Last year their government issued a formal apology and announced a package of compensation.

This came after a report found military personnel had been exposed to such paint at depots in the Netherlands from 1984 to 2006. Workers were not told the risks. Nor until the 1990s were they given protective clothing.

This was despite the fact that Germany had banned chromium-VI decades before.

Junior Defence Minister Barbara Visser said her ministry “neglected to adequately protect these (former) colleagues and did not live up to its duty of care as an employer”. Ms Visser said compensation would range from €5,000 to €40,000.

Earlier, in 2012, a small group of US service personnel received multi-million-dollar compensation after they became ill from exposure while guarding a water treatment plant in Iraq during the second Gulf War.

Chromium-VI has historically been widely used as a paint or a primer on military equipment because it helps deter rust.

It was also used to prevent corrosion in pipes. Leakage of the chemical from pipes used by an energy firm in California sparked one of the best known environmental litigations, by paralegal Erin Brockovich, whose story became an eponymous Hollywood movie staring Julia Roberts.

The UK Ministry of Defence has confirmed that it has continued to use the substance, though it is looking for an alternative.

This only emerged because an SNP MP, concerned by stories overseas, asked formal parliamentary questions on the issue.

West Dunbartonshire’s Martin Docherty-Hughes now wants details of the numbers potentially affected and whether they used any protective equipment or clothing.

READ MORE: Polmadie chemical leak: Locals say they do not feel safe

Mr Docherty-Hughes said: “We need to understand how many people have been exposed over the years that it has been used; how many still come in contact with it, and what precautions they use; and finally, what provisions have been made to provide compensation to those whose health may have been damaged by contact with the substance, as has been the case in the Netherlands.”

The heath risks of chromium have been known for more than a century. The Scottish workers’ rights campaigner James Keir Hardie harried J&J Whites in the 1890s.

Chromium-VI is a carcinogen. If inhaled, it can cause lung cancer. If swallowed it can cause cancer of the entire digestive tract.

A 2015 German investigation, by Suddeutsche Zeitung and regional TV station WDR, found one Dutch army employee who suggested even face masks had been ineffective. The man, called Tony Lammers, said: “Once I took my mask off, you could tell what colour paint I had been using as it was all around my mouth.”. Later, very unwell, Mr Lammers described blood running from his nose. His lungs, he was told, were blistered.