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 – Vermiculiteitself 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. So as we can see from the list will be 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 insulations 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 degreasing 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 mercuryvapour 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, because it can be cast and it is an excellent insulator. 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

Lead Containing Materials

Lead Containing Materials

Most old paintwork is likely to have some lead content and the older the paintwork the higher that lead content is likely to be. Lead-based paint in the United Kingdom was banned from sale in 1992; therefore lead may be present in historic building stock prior to 1992 under modern coverings and coatings.

Lead paints were used in a variety of product types for a range of uses such as on doors, door frames, stairs, banisters, window frames and sills, flooring, pipe-work, radiators, soffit’s, fascia’s and garage doors. These were used both internally and externally to wood, metal and other surfaces.

Lead surveys and assessments are a legal requirement for all commercial building and refurbishment projects wherever paintwork is liable to be disturbed, regardless of the type of building or structure.

Exposure to lead

Lead paint becomes an exposure risk when it is damaged or disturbed such as during refurbishment and demolition projects. The Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002 (CLAW) places a duty on employers to prevent, or where this is not reasonably practicable, to control employee exposure to lead. Exposures to lead can occur by inhaling, ingesting or absorbing lead paint chips, lead dust or fumes.

Lead poisoning damages the nervous system (especially in young children) and can cause serious blood and brain disorders. Lead poisoning symptoms may include abdominal pain, constipation, headaches, irritability, memory problems, inability to have children, and tingling in the hands and feet. In severe cases anaemia, seizures, coma, or death may occur.

Lead Testing, Sampling and Assessments

Lead in paint or other materials? Summit Environmental can survey or undertake sample testing and complete lead assessments for the presence of lead in paints and other materials.

Once identified Summit Environmental is able to design and employ safe systems of work, inclusive of full risk assessments to reduce or prevent lead exposure.

For further information on cases where the HSE has prosecuted companies for exposing people to lead;

For further information in the CLAW 2002 Regulations see;