Unexpected asbestos containing materials (ACMs) aren’t the only things capable of derailing a renovation or demolition project. Consider the following:

Lead Based Paint (LBP)

An LBP assessment provides answers to three key questions: 1) Is there LBP in the interior and/or exterior of the building? 2) If LBP is present, where is it located? 3) How should lead hazards be managed to minimize the potential exposure to employees or building occupants?  LBP inspections can include portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) testing, wipe sampling for lead-contaminated dust, and/or paint chip sampling.

PCB and Mercury Containing Equipment and Structures

The primary use of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in buildings has been in electrical equipment such as transformers and light ballasts.  PCBs have also been used in heat transfer systems and hydraulic fluids subject to high temperatures.  They may also be present as by-products in many organic solvents and other chemicals used or manufactured at a particular site.  All electrical equipment or stained structures near electrical equipment should be suspected to contain PCBs.  Any electrical equipment not bearing a non-PCB label should be assumed to contain PCBs.  Additionally, many older buildings contain mercury electrical switches and fluorescent light bulbs.  Heating and manufacturing equipment may contain gauges with relatively large amounts of mercury.  An experienced, knowledgeable inspector can frequently identify mercury-containing equipment by visual observations if switch covers and equipment covers can be removed.

A PCB/mercury inspection consists of the identification of potential PCB and/or mercury-containing materials that must be properly removed and disposed of prior to demolition activities.  If required, samples are collected for laboratory analysis to confirm the presence of PCBs.  These samples also provide valuable information to define disposal requirements and costs related to these materials.

Abandoned Chemicals and Petroleum Products and Wastes

Many facilities contain abandoned, unlabeled or mislabeled containers, tanks, vessels, and equipment containing chemical products that can pose a liability if not properly managed prior to demolition.  Typical materials found in former industrial facilities can include fuels, solvent-based paints, various types of oils, pesticides, herbicides, and cleaning solvents.  Of particular concern are areas where large amounts of liquid hazardous materials may have been used.  For example, in older buildings, flooring in or near facility production/manufacturing areas is oftentimes contaminated with various chemicals.  Flooring under former hydraulically operated equipment can be contaminated with PCBs and various other oils.  Knowledge of the historic uses of a facility, combined with a thorough inspection of the building, is crucial in identifying all potentially contaminated areas.

Generally, representative sampling must be conducted to adequately characterize building material identified as potentially contaminated.  The fundamental question of whether any building debris is classified as a RCRA hazardous waste must is determined by the appropriate sampling method.  Analytical characterization of these materials also aids in the evaluation of material disposal or reuse options.

Underground Storage Tanks (USTs)

UST investigations are performed to determine whether tanks are present at a site.  The property and perimeter of buildings are viewed for indications of current and/or former USTs.  Indications may include vents or vents clasps attached to walls, fill pipes, and feed and return line holes in walls.  A metal locator can also be used to screen for the presence of underground objects that could be USTs.  In addition to on-site investigations, interviews are conducted at the local Fire Marshall’s office.  Copies of UST notification forms are obtained from state regulatory agency files for review of pertinent tank information including location, age, size, construction, contents, use, and regulatory status.

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