The Importance of Dust Control on Industrial Demolition Sites

Warren Hall Demolition 23 industrial demolitionDust control is an important factor to consider when choosing a demolition contractor. Dust is a generic term for minute solid particles that are typically less than 500 microns in diameter. Although most people consider dust a nuisance, it’s a real hazard in industrial demolition. Arizona to Arkansas, industrial demolition sites often produce large amounts of hazardous dust. Dust-related hazards vary, but can include crystalline silica, as well as dust from asbestos removal. These and other hazardous dusts may be sent into the air by the shearing and crushing that is required in demolition. Exposure to toxic dust can lead to serious lung diseases.

In the last few years, the issue of dust in industrial demolition, Colorado to Maine, has been exacerbated by aging infrastructure. (Older buildings tend to contain more hazardous substances.) In both Europe and the US, the issue has become one of legislative importance. Although there are fewer regulations regarding dust control in the UK, in the US dust suppression is mandatory in many states.

Hazards in Industrial Demolition

Industrial demolition sites often contain many hazards. For many people, the first toxic demolition substance to come to mind is asbestos. Although its hazards are widely known now, asbestos was used as a building material from the 1890s through the 1950s in the US, and up until 1974 in Japan for some applications. Exposure to asbestos fibers is known to cause serious health problems to humans. Another dust hazard is exposure to crystalline silica, which can lead to silicosis, a debilitating and chronic lung disease. A lesser-known environmental hazard that’s especially likely in older buildings is histoplasmosis, an infectious disease that comes from inhaling the spores of a fungus found in the bird droppings and bat excrement. Exposure to these environmental hazards can lead to persistent illness, and long-term exposure can lead to death. These obvious concerns aside, breathing or being exposed to dust can be irritating at best, and can also exacerbate other diseases such as asthma.

Mitigation of Dust-Borne Hazards in Industrial Demolition

Safely removing asbestos and other hazardous substances requires awareness of demolition dangers, first and foremost. Additionally, demolition contractors must be trained in how to use safety equipment, such as respirators and protective clothing. Wetting agents and negative air pressure enclosures can also be utilized in demolition. On large projects, an entire building is often “wrapped” with an airtight envelope that is an effective way of containing toxic dust and preventing it from escaping into the environment during construction and demolition. Portland, Oregon’s Embassy Suites, for instance, were wrapped in this way during construction.

In the past, fire hoses were used to spray larger demolition sites, in order to wet dust and keep it from becoming airborne. This technique is now considered ineffective and obsolete. At best, the technique of spraying a potentially dusty site requires large amounts of water, which is likely to run off, taking potentially hazardous waste and chemicals with it. Moreover, the direct force of water from a fire hose does additional damage by disturbing dust and debris. A preferred modern demolition technique uses specialized equipment, such as a Dust Destroyer, which sprays a fine mist with particles that are about the same size as the dust particles. The mist creates a wall that the dust particles cannot penetrate. Dust-minimizing demolition equipment can be mounted on a truck, or on specially designed towers. Demolition equipment such as this can also be prepositioned in areas where dust is likely to occur.

Elder Demolition is an expert in dust control and in the removal of potentially hazardous material. You can count on us to be equipped with the latest in dust removal machinery and technology.

[Photo by yousuf.fahimuddin via CC License]

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