Portland Demolition Best Practices: Removing Mercury-Containing Devices

A metal gate in front of a construction site that says "danger, demolition work in progress."When it comes to the removal of hazardous materials such as mercury, demolition projects can pose some unique challenges. Mercury is a toxic substance found in equipment and fixtures used throughout residential and commercial buildings. Common devices that contain mercury include thermometers, switches, and fluorescent light bulbs. 

Elder Demolition is an EPA lead-certified Oregon demolition contractor that collaborates with a variety of partners specializing in the cleanup of hazardous materials. Our team invites you to learn more about mercury in structures and management practices for pre-demolition removal—to ensure the protection of both workers and the environment.

Employee Training  

Proper employee training is the first step in safe mercury removal. Not only should your team members be educated on the dangers of mercury, but they must also know how to safely handle and dispose of the toxic heavy metal. Employees should also be familiar with different types of mercury-containing materials and the specific removal procedures for each.

Knowledge of personal protective equipment (PPE) is also a must for safe mercury removal procedures— including gloves, goggles, and respirators. Please note, the use of mercury-resistant gloves is critical, as the compound can easily permeate through latex and other materials. 

Common mercury-containing devices include gas pressure regulators, boiler heating systems, thermostats, and electrical appliances.

Locating Mercury-Containing Devices

Before initiating any demolition work, it is essential to conduct a thorough assessment of the worksite to identify potential mercury-containing devices. Common items to look out for include: 

  • Thermostats
  • Barometers
  • Electrical relays
  • LCD screens
  • Boilers
  • Regulators 
  • Old kitchen appliances 

It’s best to collaborate with a Portland commercial demolition contractor to ensure an accurate inventory of mercury-containing devices. In turn, this list will act as a guide in developing a safe and efficient demolition strategy. 

How to Plan for Mercury Removal in Commercial Demolition 

A mercury removal plan is critical for any safe and compliant demolition site. Depending on the size and scope of the job, there are many elements to consider during the planning phase. 

Disconnect Utilities 

Since many mercury-containing devices are connected to utilities like gas and electric, it’s important they are safely disconnected prior to starting demolition. 

Contain the Mercury  

To ensure a safe worksite, you should establish a designated area for removal and containment. Next, isolate this area from the rest of the demolition site to prevent the potential spread of mercury contamination. 

Control Debris & Dust

Controls must be put in place to minimize the spread of dust and debris when dealing with mercury-containing devices. This prevents the accidental dispersal of particles into the surrounding environment.

Mercury Storage & Disposal  

Store mercury-containing devices like thermometers in sealed, airtight containers that are made for hazardous materials. These containers should be clearly labeled and kept in a secure area to prevent accidental breakage or leakage.

Elder Demolition is an EPA lead-certified Oregon demolition contractor specializing in the cleanup of hazardous materials.

The final step is to consult with the local municipality on mercury-disposal options in the region. Generally speaking, they will steer you towards a specific waste management facility that deals with toxic substances for a fee. Needless to say, safety and compliance are of utmost importance for mercury disposal. 

Portland’s Trusted Commercial & Industrial Demolition Company

It is crucial to adopt safe practices to prevent mercury exposure and environmental contamination during the demolition process. When you work with Elder for commercial demolition, we will ensure that your project is handled both safely and efficiently. 

Have questions? Contact our experts today. 

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