Surprisingly Common Hazardous Waste in Demolition

The most ubiquitous kinds of hazardous waste are lead paint and asbestos. We run into these two buggers all the time, but there are five other kinds of hazardous waste we run into quite often that might surprise you to hear about. These five kinds of waste can be just as dangerous as lead paint and asbestos so it’s important to be aware of them and have a plan to address them.

PCB Caulking

This is a common building material used prior to 1978, and it’s found in a lot of building built before that year. Since most building slated for demolition are built before 1978, we find PCB caulking very frequently. When caulking contains more than 50 ppm, we classify it as a hazardous material and handle it with appropriate care.

Specialty Light Bulbs

Some kinds of light bulbs have mercury inside, which is incredibly dangerous to handle and bad for the environment. Fluorescent and high-density discharge common bulbs are the most bulbs we find mercury in. Once we find a bulb with mercury in it, we flag it as hazardous and carefully dispose of it with the proper procedure.

Anything Else with Mercury

Along with light bulbs, mercury can be found in several building materials. Thermostats, pressure gauges, flow meters, float switches, drain traps, and tilt style light switches are all frequent offenders.

Lamp Ballasts

The ballasts inside lighting fixtures can contain PCB caulking, so we make sure to test the caulking in fixtures to see if we need to treat it as hazardous. Even if fixtures don’t have PCB, we still want to properly dispose and hopefully recycle the fixture.  


Mercury, lead, silver and cadmium are all very hazardous chemicals, and they’re all found in almost every kind of battery. This is why it’s important to not overlook batteries in a demolition site. They must be identified and disposed of in the proper way to prevent environmental damage.