Bayamon, Puerto Rico -- Puerto Rico is known for its colonial architecture and many historic buildings in Old San Juan and across the islands. Many of these treasured buildings have undergone extensive renovations to ensure their viability for years to come.
Many other buildings across the islands that do not have historic attributes and have outgrown their useful lives, are eventually torn down to make way for new construction. Each year, these demolition projects result in many tons of demolition waste. Much of this waste is inert or nonhazardous, but other debris may contain hazardous materials that may be regulated by government agencies. This waste, and the demolition process itself, can in some circumstances create exposure concerns for project workers and even nearby residents.
Demolition projects often create a large amount of particulate matter that can become airborne and spread to surrounding properties. Depending on the type and age of the building, it could contain any number of hazardous materials, including the following:
- Asbestos was used in many materials found in older buildings, including insulation, flooring tiles, shingles, roofing, textured paints and numerous other items.
- Lead-based paints were banned in 1978, but many buildings constructed before then still contain it. Some structures may even have old lead pipes.
- Mold can quickly begin to grow throughout an abandoned building or one in disrepair, including some types that are known to be pathogenic or capable of producing mycotoxins.
- Polychlorinated biphenyl, also known as PCB, was used in many applications such as fluorescent light ballasts, caulks, thermal insulation materials and other items up until 1979.
- Mercury is an extremely persistent and toxic human health and environmental threat found in some types of thermostats, fluorescent bulbs, smoke detectors, old paint and other materials.
“Older buildings often contain hazardous substances that get mixed with general dusts during demolition activities,” said Harry Pena, President of Zimmetry Environmental. “High levels of these particulates can spread across the worksite and surrounding communities creating exposure concerns and general respiratory issues for project workers and neighbors. Even diesel exhaust from demolition equipment can create exposure concerns.”
Zimmetry Environmental helps demolition and construction companies in Puerto Rico and across the Caribbean to comply with regulations associated with these hazardous materials. They provide pre-demolition testing to identify potential hazards and monitoring services while demolition activities are taking place. Zimmetry also recently sponsored an online video about demolition projects and air quality concerns that can be seen at: http://youtu.be/iEc924Xq3ds
About Zimmetry Environmental
Since 2002, Zimmetry Environmental has been providing environmental consulting services to building owners and managers, architects, engineers, EHS professionals and Fortune 500 companies. The company is based in Puerto Rico and provides services across the Caribbean and Central America. The professionals at Zimmetry offer environmental compliance, indoor air quality, asbestos, lead-based paint, Phase I ESAs and general environmental consulting services.