The 9 Most Dangerous Common Building Materials (Part 2)
For part one of the guide, detailing the first 4 – asbestos, silica, lead, and Polychlorinated biphenyls – go here
We don’t mean to be a scare-monger! But to be aware, prepared and safe, it’s worth knowing these materials and how to deal with them. So here are the final five;
- Glass Fiber
You’ll find glass fiber in insulation, and often as reinforcement in plastics. When it’s made or handled carelessly it can release what are called ‘continuous filament glass fibres’ into the air, which when breathed in can reach the lower lungs and cause quite a bit of damage – irritation in the short run, and even lung disease in the long run. Also irritating workers’ eyes and skin.
Workers are most at risk when cutting, cleaning or discharging containers. To knock down the chances of harm from glass fibre, make sure any such materials are handled with care. And wear gloves, long sleeves, long legged trousers, respiratory masks. And you can measure the fibres in the air, to know if they’re getting too high.
- Mineral Wool
Very similar to glass fibre, mineral wool is an irritant to the eyes, skin and lungs. It’s also found in insulation and is often used as reinforcement to vinyl composition floor tiles.
You should take the same care with this substance as glass fibre, and be aware that mineral wool also sometimes contains silica and asbestos too. So handle with care!
This very common silver-white metal is used as a rust inhibitor and in paints. It’s often alloyed with copper and other metals for fire protection systems, solders and electrical cables. It’s in many pigments for plastics, glasses and ceramics and as protective plating on steel. So you can see it gets around!
The danger with cadmium comes mainly when you breathe in fumes which contain it. When it is heated, which is common while working with it. Also, if you get it on your hands when eating, drinking or smoking.
Cadmium can lead to all sorts of soreness and irritation to your eyes, nose, throat and lungs. Creating dizziness, headaches, chills, chest pains and more. And a lot of exposure can even cause serious lung damage, even cancer.
Minimize contact and use of this nasty customer as much as possible.
- Asphalt in Some Uses
When asphalt is used in adhesives, as a sealant, or in roofing materials, and is heated, the fumes are as dangerous as with cadium, with similar symptoms and health risks. Also one to watch out for.
- Radioactive Isotopes
And the last one is a radiation risk. It might sound far-fetched, but radioactive isotopes used in ionization-type smoke detectors and fluorescent lamps cause damage to workers’ health across the UK! They emit radioactive particles as they decay, and a lot of exposure can lead to cancer, radiation poisoning and other illnesses.
Best be aware of it and reduce the number of these items of equipment if at all possible.
And there you have all 9 of the most common dangerous materials on building sites.
Let’s keep them well-handled and our workers safe!
Do you have any questions about the list?
Do you think we’ve missed anything out?
Comment and let me know!
If you are interested in what we said in Part 1 it’s right here