5 Types of Hazardous Demolition Site Materials and How to Reduce Them

March 22, 2024

Demolition sites are fraught with potential hazards, many of which stem from the materials used in construction. These hazards have the potential to be detrimental to a construction or demolition site and the team involved within and around it. Not only are they problematic for the actual site, but they’re also an issue for those trying to reduce their carbon footprint and become more environmentally conscious. There are many types of dangerous hazardous materials with these being just five of the most common, types of hazardous materials commonly encountered on demolition sites, and discuss how Hydrodemolition can be used to mitigate these risks.

Hazardous Materials on Demolition Sites


 Asbestos is a naturally occurring material that is present in soil and rocks. Asbestos exposure may lead to lung diseases and other health conditions. 


Asbestos was a widely used building material until the 1980s. It becomes dangerous when airborne, posing serious health risks when inhaled. Many countries have banned the use of asbestos due to its health risks.

There are many forms of asbestos, including: 

  • chrysotile (white asbestos)
  • crocidolite (blue asbestos)
  • actinolite
  • anthophyllite
  • tremolite
  • Amosite

At certain times, such as during building work and home maintenance, people may accidentally disturb materials that contain asbestos. This may release tiny asbestos fibers and particles into the air. If a person inhales these fibers and particles, they may experience various health problems, these problems can eventually prove to be fatal. 

Lead Paint

Under the Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule, contractors who renovate or partially demolish pre-1978 residential buildings must be lead-safe certified by EPA and use lead-safe practices. This rule does not apply to the total demolition of a structure. However, it’s recommended to use lead-safe practices during total demolition activities.

Used in house paint until the 1970s, lead paint becomes dangerous when it is allowed to dust or chip. In the U.S., most rental leases contain an addendum that removes the landlord from any obligation should the tenant suffer from lead poisoning due to old house materials and land. 

Lead exposure affects the nervous system and can cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities to seizures and death. Children six years old and younger are most at risk. If not detected early, children with high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from:

  • Damage to the brain and nervous system
  • Behavior and learning problems, such as hyperactivity
  • Slowed growth
  • Hearing problems
  • Headaches
  • Anemia

In rare cases lead poisoning from ingestion of lead, seizures, coma, and even death.

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

 Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) are hazardous man-made chemicals once commonly used in building construction.  Even though the U.S. banned their production in 1979, PCBs continue to leave a “legacy” of toxicity in our communities today.  PCBs have been found at high levels in certain fish throughout San Francisco Bay and the Delta, posing a serious health risk to people who eat certain local fish.

PCBs were widely used as an insulating fluid for electrical transformers and capacitors between 1930 and 1970. In addition to insulating fluid, in  older buildings, PCBs can usually be found in the following materials:


Certain states require certain steps and processes for dealing with this hazard inside buildings. At Aggregate Technologies, we always take the most care possible to ensure that our crew and yours/your job site are kept safe from hazardous materials such as this. 

Synthetic Mineral Fiber (SMF)

According to OSHA, SMFs are “fibrous inorganic substances made primarily from rock, clay, slag, or glass. These fibers are classified into three general groups: fiberglass (glass wool and glass filament), mineral wool (rock wool and slag wool), and refractory ceramic fibers (RCF). Many workers in the U.S. are exposed to synthetic mineral fibers in manufacturing and end-use applications.”

 Often used as insulation or as a reinforcing agent, SMFs cause much milder health issues including skin irritation and upper respiratory tract irritation. While there is no evidence that they can cause serious health issues,  results from animal experiments have led to conservative classifications of certain synthetic mineral fibers as possible human carcinogens. Specifically, insulation glass wool, continuous glass filament, rock (stone) wool, and slag wool are not classifiable due to their carcinogenicity to humans. Aggregate Technologies recognizes the possible health and environmental hazards that this material carries and does our best to help reduce exposure and damages where possible. 

Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS)

ODS are gases and other substances that deplete the ozone layer. While many were removed, there are still some sources of them today. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Montreal Protocol), adopted in 1987, is a global agreement to protect the stratospheric ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances (ODS). By joining, Parties commit to phasing out specified ODS – chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), halons, carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), methyl chloroform, methyl bromide (MeBr), bromochloromethane, HBFCs – thereby reducing their abundance in the atmosphere and protecting the Earth’s fragile ozone layer.

OSHA has taken steps and has set forth recommendations to help phase out these substances. Aggregate Technologies follows all guidelines set by OSHA when possible to help reduce the risks of  ODS and their damage to our earth. 

Common Ways to Reduce Construction Pollutants

There are many great and effective ways to help reduce pollutants released by construction. As technology advances, so does our ability to single out these issues and resolve them in new ways. Some common methods to help reduce hazards and pollutants involved in construction include:

Utilize Eco- Eco-ConcreteMixes

Many companies create concrete mixes that have the bulk of carbon and other impurities removed from them. These mixes are more environmentally friendly and help reduce pollutants and hazards released into the environment during construction and demolition. 

Reuse and Recycle

One of the easiest and smartest ways to reduce hazards is by reusing and recycling wherever possible. This is especially true in terms of carbon, as recycled materials already typically contain the carbon that would have been produced by making new materials. By reusing and recycling wherever possible, construction companies and demolition professionals can reduce their carbon footprint greatly. 

Reduce hazard by reduce reuse recycle

Use HydroDemolition 

HydroDemolition is a naturally environmentally friendly option that can help reduce hazards and pollution on the job site. HydroDemolition allows for both large sets of concrete to be cut, as well as small, precise portions as well. HydroDemolition uses water to carefully, yet forcefully remove concrete selections of your choice, no matter how large. 

HydroDemolition is a low-impact style of demolition, meaning there are no micro-cracks produced and virtually no silica dust released. Beyond that, the HydroDemolition is excellent for not disrupting the environment during demolition, as it’s a quieter source of demolition. Not only that but up to half of the water we use can be recycled.  HydroDemolition requires less crew,  is more efficient, uses fewer resources, and naturally releases less pollution. Aggregate Technologies is an industry leader in HydroDemolition throughout the nation.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

The Role of Hydrodemolition

Hydrodemolition is a concrete removal technique that utilizes high-pressure water, often containing an abrasive material, to remove deteriorated and sound concrete as well as asphalt and grout. This method provides an excellent bonding surface for repair and new coating applications.

Advantages of Hydrodemolition

Prevents Micro-cracks

 Unlike traditional demolition methods, Hydrodemolition does not introduce micro-cracks into the remaining structure.

Preserves Rebar

 Hydrodemolition leaves the rebar intact and cleaned from rust and corrosion.

Worker Health & Safety

 Hydrodemolition creates no vibrations, and noise and silica dust are dramatically reduced.

HydroDemolition and Reducing Hazards

HydroDemolition may not seem like your initial idea when trying to reduce hazards and pollution, but ‘it’s an excellent resource. HydroDemolition reduces hazards, both environmental and physical. There are many ways that this technology can help reduce hazards including:

  • Precise cutting heads cut where you need, and not where you don’t.
  • No impact means less silica dust and less noise 
  • Fewer materials used/wasted
  • Our closed-loop water treatment system allows us to recycle water on-site, cutting back on resources used and lost. 
  • Repairs last up to three times longer, and fewer rebuilds and repairs mean fewer materials ever used
  • HydroDemolition is 25 times faster than a jackhammer, which means less time spent with equipment running. 

HydroDemolition is a comprehensive solution to today’s modern demolition problems, including the issue of reducing carbon footprint, hazardous materials, and safety issues. 


The world has changed, and as we move toward incentivizing going green and reducing our hazardous waste, the more we’ll look for creative and innovative solutions to reduce our exposure to hazards and pollutants. HydroDemolition is a great tool for moving toward a more environmentally friendly future. Aggregate Technologies takes our commitment to the future seriously, doing what we can, where we can to provide a brighter, greener, and safer future for the next generation.  

Are you interested in learning more about reducing hazards while also efficiently removing concrete? Contact us today.                                                                                     






Contact us when you need a contractor with a record of safety and success for your concrete cutting and hydrodemolition needs.

Contact Us For a Quote