Demolition and Hazardous Materials

Demolition and Hazardous Materials

Whether you’re putting something up or tearing it down, the hazardous materials used and discovered can prove a threat to yourselves, your neighbors, and the surrounding ecosystem if not properly contained and disposed of. This is especially true in demolitions, as both old and damaged buildings have a much higher chance of containing materials that are hazardous. Before you remodel or tear down a structure, it’s important to know what hazards it might contain, both for your own health, and the health of those around you.

Types of Hazardous Materials

If you’re planning on demolition to clear a building or for renovations, it’s important to first inspect the structures, rooms, and inner spaces for common hazardous materials, so they can be handled and disposed of properly. Depending on the age and purpose of the structure, you will have to deal with the possibility of the following materials:


Once hailed as a miracle material for its durability and resistance to heat, chemicals, and electricity, the inhalation of this mineral can cause various lung diseases. Found in materials from floor tiles to drywall to fire and electric-resistance insulation, demolition or construction on buildings that contain this material pose a large health risk without the proper safety and disposal measures.

Lead Paint

Any building painted (or may contain painted-over layers) before 1980 should be surveyed to see if it contains lead paint. For many old homes there may be layers of paint under wallpaper or under ceiling treatments.


Polychlorinated biphenyl or PBC was used primarily as a caulking material and electrical ballast in homes and can be found in structures dating from before 1978. Careful disposal is required, as the toxic chemical can leach into the soil and contaminate the earth for years afterwards.


Mercury switches, as well as florescent and HID light bulbs, all contain toxic mercury. Due to their nature these items must be handled with care during removal and disposal, as breaking them will cause the liquid mercury to flow out and contaminate additional debris and the grounds.

Proper Disposal of Hazardous Waste

Once you’ve inspected and located these hazardous wastes, the EPA and state regulations must be followed. In Massachusetts Hazardous Waste Disposal is covered under the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

  • The hazardous waste must be stored in a proper container and labeled.
  • You must locate your local disposal or recycling facility.
  • That container must be transported property to the facility.

While for disposal of small amount from residential sites can be usually handed by public facilities for free or nominal fees, large scale disposal from major renovations and demolitions may require using a private facility.

Professional Demolition Contractors

When a building has to come down, especially if it has been damaged, hazardous materials are a major reason why it pays to hire a professional demolition contractor. At New England Enterprises we have over 25 years’ experience with excavation, landscaping, and demolitions. We have the right equipment to safely and quickly demolish any structure, and our professionals can properly handle and dispose of all of the waste materials—hazardous or not. If you’re planning a major project and want the help of licensed professionals with major equipment, contact New England Enterprises.