Building Contaminants

Building contaminants are a health hazard. Landlords and employers are required by law to ensure healthy living and working conditions in order to guarantee a safe stay for tenants and employees. Due to contaminants contained in them, many building materials used prior to 1996 are problematic. Immanent health hazards must therefore be suspected as a matter of principle in buildings in which these were used.

Materials that are hazardous to people’s health include, among others: asbestos, man-made mineral fibers (MMF), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), heavy metals, wood preservatives such as pentachlorophenol/Lindane (PCP), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), and volatile contaminants such as formaldehyde.

A possible biological contamination through fungi, bacteria, or pigeon droppings must not be neglected either. The same applies to usage-caused contamination that may occur over time, for example due to the use of lubricants, degreasing agents, or solvents, but also from oil-powered heating facilities. Hazardous risks may also result from dealing with total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH), volatile halogenated hydrocarbons (VHH), and aromatic hydrocarbons (AH). With regard to building maintenance, the use of cleaning agents, disinfectants, and insecticides is another secondary contamination source.

Primary contamination risks are inherent in a wide variety of building materials, such as floor coverings, floor adhesives, insulation and sealing materials, screeds, paints, heating devices, parquet floors, wood used in construction. Such building materials are frequently covered up and only revealed during renovation work.

Relevant technical regulations for working with contaminated materials are – for instance for demolition, renovation or repair work with asbestos – TRGS 519 or – for handling old mineral wool – TRGS 521. Protective measures for work in contaminated areas are specified in TRGS 524 or in DGVU regulation 101-005 (formerly BGR 128).

For the property developer or the builder, this usually means delays in the workflow and unexpected additional costs for the disposal. P+R is a competent partner in this regard: In the decades since the company was founded, our employees have managed various restoration and demolition projects that required professional and safe handling of building contaminants.

Construction companies that handle contaminants such as asbestos must be able to provide evidence of their expertise in this area. When working with dangerous materials, special obligations regarding reporting, occupational safety, and disposal must be taken into account and complied with. Non-compliance is considered a violation of the environmental criminal law and thus entails the corresponding consequences for the builder and for the construction company.

By considering the problem of contamination during the planning and tendering of renovation and demolition projects, the risk of construction stand still and additional costs for the builder are minimized. A thoroughly planned and controlled dismantling of contaminated building materials contributes to a reduction of the disposal costs. As a health hazard, building contaminants decrease the value of a property. There are therefore not only legal and ecological, but also financial reasons why we recommend eliminating them in an orderly fashion.

Our services for handling building contaminants: 

  • Preliminary survey of the construction and usage history of buildings
  • Building inspection by an expert and design of a sampling plan
  • Technical exploration to take samples of materials and perform material analyses
  • Indoor air sampling and investigation
  • Creation of a contaminant registry
  • Hazard assessment and assessment of the urgency of restoration
  • Restoration and disposal concept, incl. quantity calculation and cost estimate
  • Work and safety plan for renovation, restoration, and demolition projects
  • Application of the necessary permits
  • Tendering, evaluation of the offers, and consulting during the contract award process
  • Site management for controlling and monitoring renovation, restoration, and demolition projects
  • Safety coordination in accordance with DGVU regulation 101-004 (formerly BGR)
  • Occupational Health and Safety coordination in accordance with the Construction Site Ordinance
  • Management of the disposal of hazardous building waste using the electronic waste documentation procedure eANV
  • Checking the success of the restoration project