July 10, 2019

What are Deleterious Materials?

Types Deleterious Materials, what they are and how to deal with them.
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What are Deleterious Materials?

Deleterious materials are materials or building techniques that are dangerous to health, environmentally unfriendly, tend to fail in practice or can be susceptible to change over the lifetime of the material.

Every year, thousands of workers are made unwell by hazardous substances; this includes workers contracting lung diseases such as asthma and lung cancer or skin diseases such as dermatitis.

Types of Deleterious Materials found in historic buildings include;

  • Asbestos – Asbestos is the most written about deleterious material; Please see our other blogs for information on asbestos hazards and management.
  • Vermiculite – Vermiculite itself has not been shown to be a health problem. However, some vermiculite insulation contained asbestos fibres, which can cause problems if inhaled.
  • Silica Dust – Silica dust is the biggest risk to construction workers after asbestos, Natural substance found in most rocks, sand and clay and in used in products such as bricks and concrete. These are widely distributed across the construction industry. Silica dust is released into the air follow drilling, grinding and cutting.
  • Greenhouse Gases (CFC’s, HCFC’s and HCFC’s) – Primarily used in refrigeration and produced by industrial processes. Greenhouse Gases are also used in spray/blown foams used for insulation such as pipe insulation’s and linings to air conditioning units. Also widely used as propellants in aerosols and solvents.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) – Volatile Organic Compounds are widely used as ingredients in household products such as paints, varnishes and waxes, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic and de-greasing products. VOC’s add to issues such as tropospheric ozone and smog in the environment.
  • Refractory Ceramic fibres (RCF’s) and Man Made Mineral Fibres (MMMF’s) – MMMF Man Made Mineral Fibres main uses are as thermal insulation, mineral wools are widely used within the building trade. Refractory Ceramic Fibres main application is as lining material for kilns and furnaces.
  • Lead – Visual inspection of most solid lead installations is possible, for example lead pipes and lead flashing. Materials such as paints need samples to be taken and sent to the lab for analysis.
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB’s) – PCBs were used widely in electrical equipment; capacitors, transformers, fluorescent lights and switchgear because they don’t burn easily and are good insulators.
  • Mercury – If mercury vapour is inhaled, it is easily absorbed by the body, where it first gets into the lungs and from there into the blood and the brain.
  • Hair plaster – Historic plaster reinforced with animal hair was sometimes contaminated with the bacterium Bacillus anthracis which is the causative agent of the disease Anthrax.
  • Polyurethane Foam – main use is as rigid foam boards used for insulation and linings within construction. These can be used as insulation for heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Prefabricated PIR sandwich panels are manufactured with corrosion-protected, corrugated steel facings bonded to a core of PIR foam and used extensively as roofing insulation and vertical walls
  • Urea Formaldehyde used in adhesives, finishes, particle board, medium-density fibreboard (MDF), and moulded objects such as electrical plugs and sockets. Urea Formaldehyde has physical properties of high hardness and high toughness. Widely used as Urea-Formaldehyde Foam Insulation (UFFI) dates to the 1930s and widely made into a synthetic insulation for wall cavities.

How to deal with Deleterious Materials?

Proactive management of health and safety in the workplace helps organisations prevent injuries and ill-health at work.

Early identification and sampling is required to minimise the likelihood of potential exposure to a deleterious or hazardous material

Risk assessments, control measures and safe systems of work and required by law to reduce risks to health and safety and the environment

Contact Summit Environmental for further support and to ensure you are complying with regulations

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