Are you planning on demolishing a commercial building or doing some serious renovating? If so, here’s 3 potential environmental issues to evaluate before you start. The key words are…before you start. Preferably long before you start. If not, proceed at your own risk.
Not addressing these 3 issues before you start, or worse, ignoring them altogether, can result in a large fine from regulatory agencies and your job getting shut down for weeks or months (seriously – we get the call after it happens).
Survey for asbestos-containing materials using a licensed and experienced inspector. If at all possible, do exploratory demolition to uncover potential asbestos-containing materials behind walls, within pipe chases, and above ceilings. Obvious materials like pipe insulation, boiler insulation and floor tiles along with each different type of roofing material must be tested at a laboratory using polarized light microscopy. Less obvious suspect materials include (but are not limited to) plaster, sheet rock, joint compound, baseboard mastic, floor tile mastic and ceiling tiles. Materials containing asbestos must be removed prior to demolition or renovation to prevent air emissions and exposure to workers and the general public.
Lead paint is not just a residential thing. It’s also common in older commercial buildings. Once again, use an experienced inspector (a license is generally not required for commercial lead inspections). Test painted surfaces using an x-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrum analyzer which provides lead concentrations in the field.
Building materials with lead paint must be managed in a way to prevent worker exposure to lead during demolition and renovation. In addition, building materials containing lead paint may need to be disposed of separately from other building materials (talk to your disposal facility). Mixing debris containing lead paint with non-lead paint debris may result in all the waste having to be disposed of as a lead contaminated waste at a higher cost than if the two wastes had been segregated.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were used in caulking in commercial buildings constructed or renovation prior to 1978, especially in the period between 1950 and 1970. The caulking is typically found around windows and doors and in expansion joints in masonry buildings. Samples of suspect materials should be submitted to a laboratory for analysis of PCBs by United States Environmental Protection Agency Method 8082 with Soxhlet extraction.
Depending on the PCB concentration, PCB-containing caulk and adjacent building materials may need to be disposed of separately from other non-PCB building materials (once again – talk to your disposal facility). Mixing debris containing PCBs with non-PCB debris may result in all the waste having to be disposed of as a PCB contaminated waste at a higher cost (potentially much higher cost) than if the two wastes had been segregated.
There’s a lot that goes into testing and removing hazardous materials before renovation or demolition. Contact us at 978-256-6766 or Info@OmniEG.com and we’ll walk you through it.