In a demolition, there are many different variables to consider. Construction evolving over time means we have to factor in the building materials used before regulations are set. Research done through the years has shown the health and safety dangers of these materials, and as we do demolition on older buildings, we find these materials. Finding these materials can mean plenty of danger and knowing how to properly deal with them is a part of the demolition job. Properly identifying these materials is what makes hiring a demolition expert worth the price, since they know how to safely dispose of these materials. Here are 3 of the most prominent hazardous materials that you should know about in demolition.
Widely used material during the 1900’s construction up until the ’70s, asbestos is a fibrous silicate mineral that was used in most construction. What this means to us is that asbestos was great for being extremely heat resistant and a great electrical insulator. It was used in many different types of construction materials from drywalling, roofing materials, caulking, floor tiles, plaster, ceilings, and pipe insulation. Widely accepted for years until its health risks became apparent, asbestos can be found in many older construction projects from homes to industrial buildings. Even today asbestos can be found in the manufacturing of products, but it’s much more regulated and at safer levels than was done before. As we said, its health risks became apparent, and this is where demolition of a building with asbestos comes into play. With asbestos being a fibrous silicate mineral means it’s not a safety risk until it’s disturbed through a project such as demolition, where disturbing it changes it from a fiber to a fibrous silicate mineral that can be released into the air and inhaled. Understanding how you can be exposed to it is how you can avoid it, and this is why demolition experts should be hired for a job before any significant work is done.
Asbestos exposure can occur through many different methods during a demolition such as removing insulation, removing roofing shingles or siding, sanding or breaking apart floor tiles, breaking apart soundproofing ceiling tiles, sanding older plaster, sawing or drilling rough edges of asbestos materials. Removing, sanding, breaking apart, sawing, drilling, scraping, and other methods used in demolition can disturb older materials that contained high levels of asbestos.
The health risks involved with asbestos have to do with its exposure to the air we breathe during a demolition. Asbestos gets into the air as these methods are used and can cause health problems. Remember, asbestos can stay airborne for days, exposing anyone who breathes in the air to it. Once it’s in the lungs, it stays. Ignoring these dangers is how you get exposed, and all experts follow proper procedures to keep tenants, employees, and the public safe.
Identifying these materials isn’t something any laymen can do without the proper materials to assess the safety of a building. Demolition experts like RKS Services Group Inc have these materials and can submit the building’s physical samples from the materials used for testing or check a building permit for materials used before a project commences, to set proper procedures to contain such exposures and keep you safe.
Older buildings may have led within them since it was commonly used throughout the 19th and 20th century until recently when most materials became lead-free, such as paint. Lead is a big hazardous material to consider when it comes to demolition since it can be found in so many materials such as cables, solder, paint, steel primer, or through radiation shielding for bricks or sheeting. For demolition contractors, this means having to take proper procedures when taking on a demolition project since lots of different materials can contain it, and being exposed leads to many different adverse health effects.
Let’s look at lead in paint. This can be a serious health hazard, especially if chipping or flaking has commenced. Looking at older buildings when it comes to demolition, they’d be most likely to contain these lead-based materials that can cause health risks. How can lead get into you? Two different ways.
Inhalation of lead. Lead-based materials from older buildings can eventually start to disintegrate, exposing the airborne lead particles into the air that could be inhaled. Although they must be small enough to be inhaled, and larger particles become swallowed due to size, inhalation of lead is still a very apparent health risk that must be contained, and proper procedure must take place when a demolition project is undertaken where lead is detectable.
Ingestion of lead. The lead that may not be inhaled can be swallowed. If it gets into any food or beverages, or properly cleaning your hands before smoking or eating takes place, this risk is heightened.
Through these two ways, lead can manifest in your bloodstream when a significant amount is inhaled or ingested. Lead can be filtered through the system but as more accumulates and exposure continues, the amount within will grow and the body will filter less and less, causing irreversible damage to health.
How can this happen? When demolition occurs, this can happen during abrasive blasting, scraping, cutting, and overall removal of materials containing lead. Lead is a hazardous material that most don’t consider. Demolition experts do and take great care when it comes to a project where lead is present. To combat this, demolition experts take precautions such as containing the dust within the work area. This is done for minimal public exposure of lead. Once contained, using dust-minimizing work methods such as reducing speed, or water to dampen down dust clouds is done for minimal exposure to workers. This is all during the demolition process. After a project is finished, the cleanup requires care to make sure that high levels of lead within dust are not exposed outside of the work area. Demolition experts take extreme care when on a project where lead is present, and this is why a demolition team should be hired for a job where lead is present. Keeping everyone safe is the number one priority.
Mercury is an element that is quite lethal if ingested and can be found in most residential buildings in items such as thermometers, thermostats, batteries, switches and relays, and fluorescent lamps. On a larger scale, a demolition project being undertaken involving a previous residential building would contain many of these items and that’s a cause for concern that you should know about. Considering most of these items still contain mercury in buildings to this day, it’s well known that they can be found in many different types of buildings. Through a demolition expert, it isn’t that large of a concern due to proper procedures being done to dispose of the items. Proper disposal of hazardous materials such as mercury means avoidance of health and safety risks, which there are many of when dealing with mercury. There are many ways that it can be introduced into your system, some of which are fatal. These ways include inhalation and skin absorption.
Inhalation of Mercury. This is an extremely toxic way that mercury can get into your system. This can cause flu symptoms 3-10 hours after exposure. Some of the symptoms can chest tightness, cough, headache, fever, muscle aches, and a runny nose. These symptoms typically wear off 48 hours after the initial exposure but can cause extensive lung injury which comes with more symptoms.
Skin Contact with Mercury. Not irritating yet, can cause an allergic skin reaction due to long-term exposure.
Skin Absorption of Mercury. Through skin contact, mercury can be absorbed into the skin and can cause the effects listed above
The list of health risks from mercury exposure is extensive and can lead to life-threatening complications, so demolition experts take great care in the disposal of any items containing the element. This is a simple procedure but still must be done within regulation, and demolition experts like this demolition company in Windsor know how to properly remove the materials, catalog them, and bring them to a disposal location.
When you’re planning a demolition project, consider hiring an expert. Factors such as these are numerous, and these were simply 3 prominent ones that should be noted. Demolition teams have the equipment, expertise, and certifications to properly deal with these hazards. These 3 hazardous materials that you should know about in demolition are now within your understanding, so take full advantage of a team such as this to aid you in your next demolition project.