How to Deal with Asbestos Hazards During Building Demolition

20 June 2016
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Blog


Asbestos is a mineral fiber material that was widely used in buildings before the 90s for its high resistance to fire and insulation properties. It was added to cement and plaster to give them structural strength. Asbestos is hazardous to human health when inhaled, and can result in severe respiratory problems such as lung cancer. 

The existence of asbestos material in a building should be a matter of concern for renovation and demolition projects. Whether you are demolishing a house or part of it for structural modifications or safety reasons, protecting workers from exposure to asbestos-contaminated air should be a priority. How do you deal with asbestos and the hazards it presents?

Inspect the building

Not all buildings contain asbestos material; therefore, an inspection should be carried out to determine its presence or absence. Asbestos inspection is usually carried out by qualified inspectors. During the process, the inspector undertakes a visual inspection of the entire building. Samples of the building's materials are then taken to the laboratory for analysis. If asbestos material is present, it should be removed before house demolition can commence.

Asbestos removal

Only qualified personnel should undertake the process of asbestos removal. In fact, most states require firms to have asbestos removal licences before commencing the project. Since asbestos fibers remain in the air for hours after exposure, workers are required to have protective gear to prevent inhalation of these fibers. During asbestos removal, an asbestos consultant may be present to monitor the process and collect daily samples to assess airborne asbestos concentrations.

Commencement of demolitions

Once a building has been cleared of asbestos, demolitions can commence. However, some instances may call for emergency demolitions before removal of asbestos. Such include a collapsing building or one that is structurally unsound. In such a case, the following should be undertaken:

•    Minimize airborne asbestos during demolition by applying a fine water spray to the material. The water will saturate the asbestos and suppress the release of its fibers.

•    Equip workers with protective gear. Workers should be protected from inhaling any stray asbestos fibers. Essential protective equipment includes masks and gloves.

•    Contain surface soil around the building. The surface soil around the building should be contained, wetted down and disposed of as asbestos waste to an approved landfill.

•    Discard clothes after demolition. All clothes and protective gear should be disposed of as asbestos waste after demolition to avoid exposure to fibers that could be clinging to the clothes.

Asbestos is a hazardous material that should be handled with care during demolition projects. By following these steps, you can ensure the safety of workers from health problems associated with exposure to the material.