Lesser Known Hazardous Waste Streams In Demolition

Fluorescent light bulbs

When you begin to predict what types of hazardous materials you might encounter during a demolition project, your first thought is likely asbestos, or lead paint. These are both the most common, and the most commonly occurring waste materials we encounter in an older structure. But, there are a number of other hazardous wastes that must be part of an effective plan and mitigation strategy. Here are some of those lesser known waste streams.

PCB Caulking

This is likely a material only found in buildings constructed before 1978. But, that covers a majority of buildings who are due for demolition. The caulking in these buildings must be sampled and tested for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). If caulking is found to contain concentrations of PCBs at at least 50 ppm, it's classified and handled as hazardous waste.

Lamp Ballasts

Whether lamp ballasts contain PCBs or not, they must be collected and disposed of during a regular demolition project. However, those that do contain PCBs need to be kept separate from those that do not. Both categories of ballasts can be kept in a 55 gallon barrel that's closed once collection is complete.

Specialty Light Bulbs

Many types of light bulbs contain mercury and must be handled and disposed of carefully. This includes any type of fluorescent and high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs. Whether or not the bulb has been spent, it should be collected in a clearly marked container. This helps ensure they're disposed of properly, and helps to keep them from breaking and away from moisture.

Equipment Containing Mercury

In addition to light bulbs, there are a number of other types of equipment that could contain mercury. Each piece of equipment disposed of needs to be inspected first to verify that it doesn't contain mercury. Those that do need to be handled carefully to prevent the mercury from spilling or draining. It then needs to be sealed and packaged in tact and clearly labeled. Common types of equipment that typically contain mercury include thermostats, pressure gauges, flow meters, float switches, drain traps, and tilt style light switches.


You likely already know that batteries contain a number of chemicals harmful to both the environment and humans. The presence of batteries in structures slated for demolition can easily be forgotten, however. Due to the mercury, lead, silver and cadmium contained in nearly all varieties of batteries, they need to be part of the waste plan and disposed of properly. To prevent fires, smaller batteries can be stored in non-conductive materials and bagged.Proper planning and identification of hazardous wastes present on a demolition site are extremely important. This preliminary work ensures the safety and success of a project.To learn about our way of doing things at Demolition Technologies, call us at 918-379-0966.