8 Dangerous Stuff You Will Find On Demolition Sites

November 23, 2022

Building demolition or renovation can be dangerous, primarily because of the hazardous materials used by builders in the past. 

Many hazardous materials found in both commercial and residential buildings may not pose a risk to human health until they are damaged or exposed to air and light. So people may live or work in a building containing hazardous materials for decades without experiencing any negative effects. 

However, once the demolishers or renovators move in, they become vulnerable. 

In this blog post, we examine eight of the most prevalent hazardous substances that are frequently found in buildings. We suggest you get an idea of these before you approach a demolition services provider.

1. Chemicals

Demolition sites often contain harmful chemicals that can be dangerous to your health if you are not careful. For instance, former industrial sites that contain left-behind chemicals and waste can be detrimental to the health of people and the environment.

So, it needs proper handling and extreme caution. You must also be sure to wear protective clothing and avoid breathing in any fumes if any.

2. Solvent Waste

The second type of dangerous stuff you find on demolition sites is a solvent waste. Liquids like degreasers, thinners, adhesive removers, cleansers, and fuel additives are considered solvent waste.

Although these liquids are quite helpful on a building site, they also include substances that could be dangerous. Dealing with solvent waste after a spill may be difficult because you need specialised equipment to collect and safely dispose of the liquids.

3. Mould

Mould is often present on demolition sites, especially if the building is old or has been damaged by water. Mould can result in various health issues, including watery eyes, asthma, breathing issues, and even depression.

So, you should avoid coming into contact with mould and be sure to wear a mask if you work in an area where mould is present. 

Different kinds of mould include:

  • Aspergillus
  • Cladosporium
  • Stachybotrys atra
  • Trichoderma
  • Penicillium
  • Fusarium

Mould may grow somewhere that is cool, dark, and damp, and it can infiltrate almost any sort of construction material or soft furnishings. 

Carpets, behind walls, insulation, air conditioning ducts and air shafts, fibreglass, wooden surfaces, and wallpaper are a few common locations to look for it.

4. Asbestos

Many older buildings contain asbestos, which can be dangerous if disturbed. If you suspect that asbestos may be present on the site, be sure to have it tested before beginning work.

In Australia, asbestos was a common building material between 1930 and 1983. Exposure to asbestos can cause seriously harmful lung problems. Asbestos is only dangerous when inhaled, so friable (crumbly) asbestos, as well as bonded asbestos that has been damaged, can both be problematic.

For this reason, every demolition company takes extreme care for asbestos removal. 

5. Lead

Like asbestos, lead can be present in older buildings and dangerous if it's disturbed or inhaled.

Up until the 1970s, practically all types of home painting in Australia included high quantities of lead carbonate. When lead paint is left to dust or chip, it becomes hazardous. Once disturbed, lead paint can re-settle for decades in carpets, floors, and even soil. 

These contaminants can cause lead poisoning in people, which can cause physical and mental impairments in children and damage to the neurological system.  So, if you suspect that lead may be present on the site, have it tested before beginning work.

6. Ozone Depleting Substances

ODS refers to a group of synthetic chemicals that have been widely used in manufacturing since the 1920s and have prompted the ozone layer's thinning. 

Despite not being hazardous to people, ODS must be carefully removed and disposed of since they have a negative impact on the Earth's atmosphere. 

The typical sources of these substances are air conditioners, fire extinguishers, and commercial cleaning supplies.

7. Falling Debris 

One of the most common hazards on demolition sites is falling debris. Be sure to wear a hard hat at all times to protect yourself from being hit by anything that falls from above.

As a remedy to these accidents, workers wear PPE—Personal Protective Equipment—while they are on the worksite. It includes everything from a hard hat to steel-toe boots. Wearing this kind of protective gear is demolition 101 in any project, regardless of the scale of it. 

8. Electrical Hazards

Another common hazard a demolition contractor must deal with is electronic waste. 

Refrigerators and other electrical appliances that are outdated or broken include parts that emit chlorofluorocarbons and other ozone-depleting chemicals. Only a professional building trash removal company or a licenced expert may handle these components.

So, be sure to stay clear of any exposed wires or outlets, and never attempt to operate any machinery yourself unless you are trained to do so safely.                                                 

Conclusion                 

Demolition sites are full of potential hazards, from harmful chemicals to falling debris. So before venturing into one, make sure you are aware of the dangers that lurk below. 

So, if you suspect there may be hazardous materials present, be sure to have them tested before beginning work. 

One of the best recommendations for a demolition contractor in Melbourne is the Merhi Group. You seek a consultation with them to discuss your concerns, and they will guide you well. 

We hope this post is helpful in understanding the care you should take with your demolition project. 

Stay safe out there!

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