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  • Writer's pictureUS Industrial

Asbestos removal and commercial demolition in Chicago and Illinois

During the last century, asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral, was used extensively for industrial and commercial construction and building projects. Asbestos is versatile, strong, flexible, affordable and offers excellent electrical, fire and heat resistance properties so it made an excellent building material. Unfortunately towards the end of the century it was also discovered to be extremely hazardous to health.

Asbestos is made up of tiny fibres which shed from it like a dust when it is disturbed or broken up, when breathed in these fibres can lead to a variety of serious illnesses and conditions including lung cancer and deadly malignant mesotheliomas. Fortunately a lot of asbestos in buildings is quite safely hidden away wrapping pipes or insulating walls and raises no immediate health risks, but if a building is due for commercial demolition then all the asbestos must be removed in advance, otherwise is will be reduced to airborne particles which can spread over a large area.

At US Industrial Demolition we always take the problem very seriously and ensure professional removal. Detailed pre-demolition inspections for asbestos and other harmful or hazardous materials are essential across the US for carrying out a demolition project safely and legally, but for a range of reasons it is a particularly pressing issue in Chicago and the wider state of Illinois.

Rapid industrial and railroad expansion filled Chicago and Illinois with asbestos

Chicago is a hub for many key rail routes, and rapidly developed and grew through the period when asbestos was widely used in building construction. As a result it is found in hundreds of the industrial, manufacturing, shipbuilding and railroad properties in the city, as well as buildings like schools built at the same time to accommodate the growing population.

Of course this is a problem for commercial demolition companies in many American cities, but for Illinois it wasn't just the new construction creating the problem. Facilities in Chicago, Girard, Peoria, Quincy, Buda and Calumet City processed hundreds of thousands of tons of asbestos products for the US market when it was heavily in use, and the unfortunate consequences are significant and still being felt and dealt with today.

Asbestos fibres have been discovered in rainwater in Chicago, which may have contaminated groundwater, public beaches and even Lake Michigan. Illinois as a state has one of the worst asbestos-related deaths figures in the entire USA, and as a result we also have some of the strictest legislation for responsibly and expertly taking care of it's removal whenever a commercial demolition is planned.

Asbestos removal demands professional expertise

It isn't always easy to tell exactly what is asbestos within a building, and any disturbance of asbestos products and materials can lead to the release of fibres into the air, so it has to be treated like any other hazardous material and handled expertly. Anything suspected of being asbestos or containing asbestos should be tested, and removal must be carried out by experienced and EPA licensed professionals well in advance of the demolition work.

Asbestos removal and abatement teams are equipped with a range of specialist protective clothing and breathing equipment, and must also carefully prepare the area they are working in, sealing off the space and vents with plastic sheeting to ensure fibres can't escape beyond the site. Filter vacuums and wet tools must be used to clean up the workspace and all materials removed from site should be wet down and sealed in clearly marked and leak-tight containers.

There are efforts to create safe recycling of asbestos through a high temperature treatment to turn it into glass, but at present the majority of it must be carefully disposed of at a suitably qualified landfill which buries the containers.

We have a lot of work left to do in Chicago and Illinois to gradually remove the asbestos from our buildings and the environment around us, and a pleasure we take in our demolitions work is that every safely completed job means a little less asbestos in our state.


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