Demolition projects are rife with hazards and not just those that come from falling debris and heavy machinery. The presence of asbestos in a building that is to be torn down presents a number of dangers as such work can allow the naturally occurring mineral’s fibers to become airborne, which can have deadly consequences.
The inhalation of asbestos fibers has been proven for decades to cause a number of serious illnesses such as lung cancer, asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma.
Recognizing these dangers, action has been taken at two sites in the northeastern part of the United States regarding potentially dangerous demolition projects.
Massachusetts officials claim violations at shed demolition
Officials in Holliston, Massachusetts, said that the town’s Water Department violated local and state laws protecting wetlands when it knocked down a shed.
MetroWest Daily News reports that a truck damaged the shed over the summer and the building was torn down shortly thereafter.
Town Conservation Commission and Board of Health member Richard Maccagnano said that such action was unacceptable as asbestos may have been present in the structure, which was reportedly built in 1958.
Maccagnano said that the department needed permission to perform such a demolition, something Water Commission Chairman Dennis Ferreira says he did not know.
“We weren’t aware that we needed a special permit to do it,” he told the news source.
Currently tests are being conducted on the structure and it is expected that the demolition debris will be removed soon.
New York business owner angered over potential demolition of shop
The owner of the old Peters Dry Cleaning in Lockport, New York, said that he would sue the city if it proceeds with emergency demolition plans on the structure.
A wing of the facility – which was built in the 1920s and ’30s – collapsed in mid-December and owner Patrick McFall was ordered to obtain an asbestos report for the structure. However, McFall insists that his building is asbestos free and said that he would file a lawsuit against the city if they tore his building down.
However, Chief Building Inspector Jason Dool says that the store likely contains the substance.
“Certainly you can’t tell by a set of blueprints. It could be in plaster, it could be in window caulking,” he told the Buffalo News. “Due to the age of the building and everything else, I would not be surprised if there were asbestos in the building.”
Dool added that the city has the authority to tear unsafe buildings down, but acknowledged that a walk-through of the structure is likely needed.
These incidents show that demolition of asbestos-containing structures need to be taken seriously.