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Abstract

Rapid technological progress in construction requires that more and more attention should be paid to human security issues. Threats occur both at the stage of building facilities and during their use. Some impacts are easy to identify during construction stage like shocks and vibrations, others are hidden from sight and direct sensing like the harmful effect of chemicals. In addition to accidents that happen on construction sites, there are still objective threats, which may occur throughout the lifetime of the facility. In addition to clearly perceptible ones such as earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, there are hidden threats as well: bacteriological contamination, radiation or chemical interactions that occur in time. This article points to the most common chemical hazards. Examples of chemical threats occurring in construction at the stages of design, construction and use of buildings will be given below.
Chemical hazards in construction industry
Tomasz Kowalik, Dominik Log, Marek Maj, Jarosław Rybak
*
, Aleksandra Ubysz and
Anna Wojtowicz
Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, Wybrzeże Wyspiańskiego 27, 50 370 Wrocław
Abstract. Rapid technological progress in construction requires that more
and more attention should be paid to human security issues. Threats occur
both at the stage of building facilities and during their use. Some impacts
are easy to identify during construction stage like shocks and vibrations,
others are hidden from sight and direct sensing like the harmful effect of
chemicals. In addition to accidents that happen on construction sites, there
are still objective threats, which may occur throughout the lifetime of the
facility. In addition to clearly perceptible ones such as earthquakes,
hurricanes, fires, there are hidden threats as well: bacteriological
contamination, radiation or chemical interactions that occur in time. This
article points to the most common chemical hazards. Examples of chemical
threats occurring in construction at the stages of design, construction and
use of buildings will be given below.
1. Introduction
Nowadays, many diseases result from the progress of civilization. People, due to their
activities are exposed to various unexpected impacts. Solutions that make our daily life
easier are not always safe for health. Examples include various sources of vibrations,
radiation from mobile phones, car exhausts or food preservatives. Such dangers are also
observed in the construction industry [1]. Standards and building codes have required safety
certificates for many years now [2-5]. Detailed regulations specify safe levels of various
contaminations with substances and impacts that threaten health. Rapid technological
progress in the field of building materials means that not all health-threatening factors are
recognized. Moreover, tests required to certify products for use are also carried out
according to specific procedures. The criteria for these procedures are most often associated
with the purpose of the product. In practice, unfortunately, some products are not stored or
used in accordance with the manufacturer's intention (too high or too low temperature,
permissible humidity range exceeded, improper transport, contact with materials that
trigger chemical reactions, etc.). In these cases, there is a great danger that such products
will pose a real threat to those who use them, as well as those who will be users of facilities
built according to technologies that do not comply with the Manufacturer's requirements.
*
Corresponding author: jaroslaw.rybak@pwr.edu.pl
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons
Attribution License 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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Identification and spreading of knowledge about potential threats should be a part of
new sustainable ways of developing building industry. Some examples concerning the
construction works were already given for construction induced vibrations in work [6].
2. Construction raw materials
There are two main sources of potential chemical risk directly from the materials used at
the building site. First group is used for the production of composites these are harmful
mineral binders, mainly based on Portland cement with additives. The second group consist
of ready construction materials produced from potentially harmful substrates.
2.1. Mineral binders
Portland cement clinker contains a product that is a threat to both people and the
environment. Clinker and dust from the production of Portland cement are a strongly
alkaline environment after reaction with water. The basic components of the clinker are:
tricalcium silicate (50-65% of clinker mass) 3CaO·SiO2 (alit)
dicalcium silicate (about 20% of clinker mass) 2CaO·SiO2 (belit)
Ca3Al2O6 (3CaO٠Al2O3 C3A) reacts with water the fastest (celite)
compound of calcium, aluminium and iron oxides 4CaO·Al2O3·Fe2O3 (brownmilleryt)
tricalcium aluminate 3CaO·Al2O3
Each of these compounds undergoes hydration in contact with water:
3CaO·Al2O3 + 6H2O > 3CaO·Al2O3·6H2O
2CaO·SiO2 + H2O > 2CaO·SiO2·H2O
3CaO·SiO2 + 2H2O > 2CaO·SiO2·H2O + Ca(OH)2
The product obtained is strongly alkaline (12-13 pH). For humans, the greatest risk is
the contact of these compounds with the humid environment: eyes, respiratory tract, moist
skin. This impact is defined in terms of health risk as STOT SE (specific target organ
toxicity single exposure). This means there is a risk of serious eye damage or severe
irritation of the respiratory tract or skin. In some cases, allergic reactions may occur due to
the content of Cr chromium. This risk increases with a longer period of cement storage,
since then the efficiency of the chromium reducer decreases.
2.2 Construction materials
Building elements that are made of concrete and similar materials can be a source of
radiation. Natural radiation is in small amounts a natural environment for humans and does
not threaten its health. It happens, however, that some materials show a higher level of
radiation, which is not indifferent to health.
The phenomenon of radioactivity is also observed in ceramic hollow blocks, and
sometimes at a higher level than in the case of concrete blocks. All materials used to build
a house should therefore be controlled for radioactivity. In addition, you should pay
attention to indirect impacts. The chemical environment may be the basis for other factors
harmful to health. An example can be bacteriological and mycological contamination.
Wood-based materials can be included in materials that can be harmful. For their
production, formaldehyde is used, which is dangerous both at the production stage and in
the use of rooms. Formaldehyde is released into the atmosphere as a gas that can cause
disease in high concentrations. People exposed to this gas emission may experience chest
pain, weakness, watery eyes, as well as sensitization and irritation. Research confirms that
formaldehyde can cause cancer in humans.
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3. Harmful ingredients of paints
The term "harmful substance" according to the Dictionary of terms used in toxicology of
1994 reads: "... it is a chemical agent that in contact with the human body can cause specific
biological or health effects occurring during exposure or later, and also in the next
generations." Paints are substances that form protective or decorative coatings on the
surface of objects. They are usually in liquid form. They consist of many components, of
which one can distinguish: binders (resins), thinners, pigments. Each of these elements has
a different role in coating formation.
3.1 Resins
Resins, i.e. binders are found in all types of paints, varnishes and emulsions. The y
are responsible for the formation of a film on the surface of an object and give the
paint properties such as gloss, strength, flexibility, adhesion, resistance to weather
conditions. Binders may be synthetic or natural, e.g. polyurethanes, epoxy resins,
vinyl acetate, silanes [7].
Polyurethane paints perfectly protect objects against corrosion and mechanical damage,
therefore they have been used in the metallurgical and shipbuilding industries, but they also
work well on substrates such as plaster, concrete, wood and plastics [8,9].
Chemically highly reactive isocyanates are the basic raw material for the synthesis
of polyurethanes [10]. The most dangerous are their pairs, which get into the body through
the respiratory system. They are also partially absorbed through the skin. Prolonged
exposure to isocyanates causes occupational asthma.
Epoxy resin belongs to synthetic resins. It is an important component of paints and
varnishes, adhesives or putty. They are resistant to high temperature, high load, strong
chemical substances, and widely used in industry. Epoxy resin irritates eyes and skin, and
can cause burns. Upon contact with the respiratory system, it causes its damage.
Vinyl paints are durable and cover well. They can be used on various substrates:
plasters, drywall, wood. Their base is polyvinyl acetate, which has an irritating effect on
mucous membranes; it causes eye tearing as well as smell disorders. After it has been
absorbed into the body, usually through the respiratory tract but also through the digestive
system, it causes dizziness, drowsiness, coughing. Polyvinyl acetate causes dysfunction
of the central nervous system. In an experimental study of human exposure to low levels
of vinyl acetate, functional abnormalities in the electroencephalographic record were found.
3.2 Solvents
Solvents are liquids that dissolve film-forming substances that form a binder of paints and
varnishes [11]. Most often they are: gasoline, benzene, turpentine, ethyl alcohol. They
exhibit high volatility and thus can create high concentrations in the air. Benzene is highly
toxic. It causes damage to the nervous system. It is absorbed mainly from the respiratory
tract, rarely through the skin and from the gastrointestinal tract. It is considered to be
carcinogenic; it damages the bone marrow. People who are professionally exposed to
benzene have an increased incidence of leukaemia.
Solvents cause permanent damage to your hearing. The first studies on this subject
come from the early 1980s. They affect the peripheral and central part of the auditory
pathway and the balance system. Prolonged exposure to organic solvents causes chronic
toxic encephalopathy, which is recognized as an occupational disease. This disease leads to
diffuse changes in the brain.
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3.3 Pigments
The main task of pigments is to protect the organic resin against UV radiation and
corrosion. Not all pigments are toxic, but some of them contain heavy metals such as
cadmium or lead.
Cadmium naturally occurs in zinc and lead ores, and has highly toxic properties.
It protects against corrosion very well, which is why it is widely used in industry.
Cadmium poisoning occurs mainly in metallurgy. The body accumulates the element in
the internal organs (liver, kidneys, pancreas), thus damaging them. It causes serious foetal
defects and is therefore particularly dangerous for pregnant women.
All lead compounds are poisonous. It penetrates the body through the digestive and
respiratory system causing lead poisoning, which is a chronic poisoning with lead and its
salts. Lead accumulates in the brain, kidneys and liver, damaging these organs. Among the
chronic effects of lead, lead neuropathy is mentioned (dementia, hallucinations, muscle
tremors, concentration and memory disorders), as well as atherosclerosis and cardiac
infarction resulting from it.
4. Measures for protection against chemical substances
4.1 Personal protection measures
Personal protective equipment against hazards from chemical substances are: protective
clothing, face and eye protection, respiratory protection. They should be used in situations
where threats cannot be avoided or sufficiently mitigated by means of collective protection
or appropriate organization of work [12,13]. Thanks to them, you can reduce the likelihood
of an accident and minimize its health effects [14].
a) Clothing protecting against chemical agents directly protects against very serious threats,
often even fatal ones. It is divided into 6 basic types:
Type 1 and Type 2 Clothing protecting against chemical substances in the form of
gases, vapours, liquids and fine solid particles
Type 3 Protective clothing against the action of a liquid stream
Type 4 Protective clothing against the action of sprayed liquid
Type 5 Clothing protecting against dust
Type 6 Clothing with limited protection against liquid chemicals
b) Eye and face protection prevents among others eye damage due to mechanical, chemical,
thermal and other factors. Eye protection equipment:
safety glasses,
protective goggles,
face shields,
welding shields
goggles (better adherence to the face than glasses) and face shields that prevent direct
contact with the skin and eyes are most commonly used to protect against chemicals.
As a result, irritation and more severe burns are avoided.
c) Respiratory protection is of particular importance. Substances absorbed into the body this
way cause many dangerous diseases, also life-threatening diseases. There are two basic
protection methods:
cleaning the inhaled air
supplying air from sources free of impurities
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Cleaning equipment purifies the inhaled air from harmful chemicals and dust. Cleaning
equipment includes: filters to stop dusts and mists, absorbers to stop gases on the principle
of chemical reaction and filter-absorbers, which are a combination of filters and absorbers.
Insulating equipment ensures supply of clean air, so that toxic substances do not reach the
lungs and then other parts of a worker's body.
4.2 Safe storage of chemical substances
People who have contact with chemical substances should be trained in terms of their
storage, the risks involved and preventing them. Chemical substances ought to be stored in
such a way that they do not pose any hazard.
Poisoning, explosions and fires are the basic risks linked to storing chemicals.
Ventilation and signalling devices should be provided in a facility with dangerous reagents
[15]. The height of storage at work without lifts should not exceed 1.5 m. Hazardous
substances in glass packaging should be stored on the lowest shelves. Access to
extinguishing and neutralizing agents should be ensured; agents and measures must be
adapted to the type of danger. Flammable substances, if their storage is truly required,
should be stored in the smallest possible quantities; all precautions recommended by the
manufacturer must be observed.
Substances that may interact with each other should be stored away from each other.
Containers must be properly marked, set in designated places. Vessels and equipment in
contact with a toxic substance should be marked in a permanent and visible manner.
5. Conclusions
The constant progress in material sciences and increasing use of new construction
materials and technologies has resulted in new risks for building site employees and
final users of construction facilities. New technologies introduce more and more
complex composite materials which could not be tested in a long time period before
implementing. Composites using waste or recycled materials are already an
increasingly important element of buildings [16-17]. Also the energy sector promotes
the use of fly ashes (spoil material of coal burning) in building industry as
a substitute of cementous binders. However, in terms of CO2 production fly ashes are
“zero emitting materials”, other threats related to radiation should be considered. In
this and other cases, there is still a problem with secondary chemical threats from
composite materials. Attention should be paid not only to short-term and long-term
impact the direct threat to people with , but also to indirect hazards, which are
harmful to the environment. The presented topic only shows examples of threats that
must be examined and published in the form of building standards and regulations.
This paper has been written as part of the research project: "Industrialized construction process
(Construction 4.0). Technological and methodological conditions of application of selected composite
elements in civil engineering". The project is being carried out jointly with Peoples’ Friendship
University of Russia in Moscow. Research project PWr-RUDN 2017 no. 45WB / 0001/17
Industrialized Construction Process.
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The Sustainable Development Goals were a remarkable advancement when adopted by the United Nations in 2015. For the first time, the world committed towards a wide spectrum of common goals ranging from climate action to sustainable cities from sustainable economic growth to inclusive industrialization. Sustainability is usually considered as “avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance”. In case of civil engineering, it means minimization of environment-related costs of ongoing project, also in terms of temporary deterioration of life quality in vicinity of building site due to noise and mechanical vibrations. Such impacts may constitute environmental load within much longer time-frame than exposure time to negative influences itself. Numerous impacts of construction work on environment, sometimes not covered by any standards, from mechanical damages to facilities and infrastructure, those which are easiest to identify, through negative influence to comfort and health of local residents, to offset the balance of nature (e.g. by chasing out birds during breeding season) are observed. The paper provides exemplary actions which may be undertaken by construction work contractors to reduce adverse dynamic impacts – mechanical vibrations, with regard to geotechnical work related to execution of deep excavation shoring. Conclusions of the paper are of general nature and, independently of rules specified by standards, they can provide guidance on good practices.
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The reuse of building materials becomes an important issue in sustainable engineering. As the technical requirements for civil engineering structures changes with time and the life time is limited, the need of building new objects meets the necessity of recycling of the existing ones. In the case of steel structures, the possibility of recycling is obvious, also in the case of wooden constructions, the possibility of "burning" solves the problem. The concrete waste is generated mainly as a result of the demolition and reconstruction of residential and industrial buildings. These types of waste are basically made from crushed rocks and cement minerals and contain non-hydrated cement particles in its composition. Concrete poses a lot of problems mainly for two reasons. It is difficult to crush, heavy and hard to transport and demanding in reuse. Different fractions (particle sizes) may be used for different purposes. Starting from very fine particles which can be used in concrete production, through regular 16-300 mm fractions used to form new fills and fill the mats, up to very irregular mixtures used to form stone columns by means of Impulse Compaction or in Dynamic Replacement. The presented study juxtaposes authors experience with crushed concrete used in civil engineering, mainly in geotechnical projects. Authors' experiences comprise the application of crushed concrete in the new concrete production in Russia, changing pulverized bridge into the fill of mesh sacks, or mattresses used as an effective way to protect the shoreline and the New Orleans East land bridge after Katrina storm (forming a new shoreline better able to withstand wave actions), and finally the use of very irregular concrete fractions to form stone columns in week soils on the example of railway and road projects in Poland. Selected case studies are presented and summarized with regard to social, technical and economic issues including energy consumption needed for proposed technologies and dynamic impact of ground transmitted vibrations and noise.
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The article is devoted to the questions of usage of crushed concrete fines from concrete scrap for the production of high-quality decorative composite materials based on mixed binder. The main problem in the application of crushed concrete in the manufacture of decorative concrete products is extremely low decorative properties of crushed concrete fines itself, as well as concrete products based on them. However, crushed concrete fines could have a positive impact on the structure of the concrete matrix and could improve the environmental and economic characteristics of the concrete products. Dust fraction of crushed concrete fines contains non-hydrated cement grains, which can be opened in screening process due to the low strength of the contact zone between the hydrated and non-hydrated cement. In addition, the screening process could increase activity of the crushed concrete fines, so it can be used as a fine aggregate and filler for concrete mixes. Previous studies have shown that the effect of the usage of the crushed concrete fines is small and does not allow to obtain concrete products with high strength. However, it is possible to improve the efficiency of the crushed concrete fines as a filler due to the complex of measures prior to mixing. Such measures may include a preliminary mechanochemical activation of the binder (cement binder, iron oxide pigment, silica fume and crushed concrete fines), as well as the usage of polycarboxylate superplasticizers. The development of specific surface area of activated crushed concrete fines ensures strong adhesion between grains of binder and filler during the formation of cement stone matrix. The particle size distribution of the crushed concrete fines could achieve the densest structure of cement stone matrix and improve its resistance to environmental effects. The authors examined the mechanisms of structure of concrete products with crushed concrete fines as a filler. The results of studies of the properties of the crushed concrete fines were provided. It is shown that the admixture of the crushed concrete fines has little effect on the colour characteristics of the decorative concrete products. The preferred options to improve the surfaces of decorative concrete are also proposed.
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This paper presents some problems connected with causes of reinforced concrete silos failure. Reinforced concrete silos and other shells were built for decades. Vitality i.e. durability of cracked silo walls are one of the most important parameters during designing process, constructional and exploitation time of these shells. Some reasons of appearance of horizontal and vertical cracks as temperature, pressure of stored material, live loads e.g. wind, dynamic character of wind, moisture, influence of construction joints, thermal insulation, chemistry active environmental etc. reduce the carrying capacity of the walls of the silos and causes lower the state of reliability. Horizontal and vertical cracks can cause corrosion of concrete and steel bars, decreasing stiffness of contraction, bigger deflection, increasing of carbonation of concrete cover and dank of concrete wall. Horizontal and vertical cracks allow condensate water infiltrates into wall. Local and global imperfactions of concrete shells are increasing according to greater number of cracks. Taking into account these facts, reducing of strength parameters reduce the service life of the whole reinforced concrete structure causing failure status. The technology of repairing cracked walls must take into consideration the model of failure, simple one parameter or complex as series or parallel system models.
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The paper presents risks of the use of building materials with radioactive properties. The element that generates almost half of the natural radiation is radon. The most common medical complications are radiation sickness and cancer, affecting the lungs. The workplaces where building materials are manufactured with the use of radioactive materials present a hazard to human health, e.g. in deep and opencast mining. The report states that radon after smoking is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Protection against excessive radiation from radon ought to be bases on the use of materials with a relatively low level of radioactivity.
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