top of page
  • Writer's pictureUS Industrial

Demolition dust and hazardous materials in Chicago and Illinois projects

Most people understand that commercial demolition of any building should only happen after a thorough check for asbestos, and expert removal of it if found; but there's much more to demolition hazards than asbestos, acids and chemicals.

As a Chicago demolition company we've been very aware of the Little Village smokestack demolition just over a year ago, which created a large dust cloud across nearby residential areas of the Chicago neighborhood. The dust was ultimately found by the city not to be dangerous to health, but the event highlighted that there are significant health concerns around the contents of demolition and construction dust. The developers of the site were hit with 16 citations for failing to mitigate the dust cloud, and sued by the Illinois Attorney General.

After the demolition, Chicago had a 6 month moratorium on implosions to implement new implosion permit rules increasing community engagement and expert monitoring throughout the demolition process, ultimately though, all of this could probably have been avoided if the site had just been watered down properly.

For US commercial demolition companies, it's the details that matter

And this is why even checking off the list of potentially dangerous materials, and expertly removing them, isn't enough; professional demolition companies need to put their experience and knowledge into the process, ideally from as early as possible through pre-demolition inspections, and keep applying it pro-actively all the way through the job.

Sometimes construction dust is largely harmless, but at worst it can contain asbestos, lead, cadmium, selenium, nickel, zinc, chromium, arsenic and various organic compounds, all of which are very bad for you if you breathe them in. Even a harmless dust can cause a lot of problems for anyone living in the area, especially if they haven't been given plenty of advance notice of any risk of dust.

Implosion demolitions are quite rare in the US partly because of the risk of dust clouds, but all demolition has the potential to create dust, and a range of mitigation methods can be applied to limit it. Minimising grinding and cutting works wherever possible, utilising vacuum attachments and well covered chutes and skips, and perhaps most importantly making sure everything is damped down with a water spray, can all make a huge difference in the amount of dust generated.

Involve your demolition company from day one

This will remain an important topic in US demolition for some time, and especially for Illinois and Chicago demolition companies where environmental campaigners are raising a range of concerns, with one of the largest looking at Illinois' coal power industry. As coal plants shut down for newer energy technologies, they leave behind vast buildings and chimneys which are likely to contain mercury, arsenic and lead from many years of burning coal.

Not every building can be repurposed and demolition is a crucial process in urban renewal and improvement, so it's essential to put expert knowledge onto projects at the earliest stage possible. Pre-demolition inspections can highlight a full range of risks and mitigation techniques ranging from direct removal of substances like asbestos, to decontamination works, or careful manual demolition techniques over options like building implosions.

At US Industrial Demolitions we've built a team and a service which can work with developers and contractors through every stage of planning and carrying out any type of commercial demolition services. Our demolitions experts can provide inspections and consultancy, carry out industrial decontamination and cleaning, remove hazards like asbestos and apply an intelligent and cost effective risk mitigation process.

Whether it's a smokestack, commercial warehouse or domestic home, we're your commercial demolition partners from day one through to the last sweep of dust at the finished site.


bottom of page