Are Asbestos, Arsenic, and Lead Still Used in Construction?

March 26th, 2020 | in Abatement Services
Blog Image

Arsenic Compounds in Building Construction

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element commonly found as an impurity in metal ores, and is produced commercially for use in pesticides, wood preservatives, and metal alloys. Arsenic waste is often created during the mining process. A specific, and potentially toxic form is called arsenic trioxide.

Arsenic treated wood can also be hazardous to human health because arsenic is a known carcinogen. Arsenic compounds, and specifically the trioxide, is used in treating wood products, insecticides, and pesticides. All of these applications are decreasing because of the toxicity of arsenic compounds.

Exposure to arsenic can cause cancer of the lung, bladder, skin, kidney, prostate, and nasal passage. Arsenic exposure can also lead to nerve damage, dizziness, and numbness. Arsenic can leach to the surface of the treated wood, becoming accessible for absorption through exposed hands and skin touching the wood surface and, especially in the case of children, ingestion through normal hand-to-mouth behavior. Arsenic can also leach into the ground surrounding the location of the treated wood.

Building fires and TOXIC chemical release

During a building fire the degradation of synthetics can result in the release of hydrogen cyanide and other toxic gases. There are many other chemicals that may include hydrochloric acid, ammonia, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide that can be released and deposited into the ash and soot. Recent research has revealed that hydrogen cyanide present in smoke generated at building fires may play a more significant role in injuries and deaths of firefighters and civilians than once thought.

Lead IN Building Construction

In many countries, the use of lead in construction of residential, commercial, industrial and marine structures is decreasing. One can find lead in building materials such as lead paint and coatings, lead primer on structural steel, sheet metal, paints, solder, concrete, and mortar.


If you are working on a construction project in an old building and are concerned about hazardous materials, contact us. This is our business.

Enviro-Vac is one of the oldest privately owned environmental contractors in Canada. They offer full suite of services in hazardous materials abatement and decontamination including shrink- wrap containments and are available to work both small and large-scale projects across Canada. The head office is based in Surrey, BC.

If you have any questions about this article or would like to talk to us about hazardous materials abatement, decontamination or shrink-wrap solutions, please call us on our toll-free number, (888) 296-2499.

Learn more about how
Enviro-vac can help