As a disclaimer to this Buffalo News story projecting a “big crowd” for the planned October 3 implosion of the former Kaleida Health Millard Fillmore Gates Circle hospital, there are very real air quality concerns associated with such demolitions that potential spectators and nearby residents should know about.
Below is a map showing the implosion site, with the hospital shaded red.
(Note the “Hospitality Area” on the roof of the parking ramp, near the Command Center!)
Pedestrians, bicyclists, and cars are to be outside the red boundary when the implosion takes place at 7am. If you live within the red boundary, your best bet is to remain inside your house until the dust settles—at least an hour after the blast, according to this study by Johns Hopkins University, published in the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association.
From the study:
Demolition by implosion is conducted by using
nitroglycerine-based dynamite to strategically destroy
load-bearing structures, allowing the building to collapse
onto itself. Depending on the timing and location of
charges, implosion contractors are able to predetermine
the direction of the collapse and subsequent debris pile.3
(The demolition that is the subject of this paper was
conducted by collapsing a high-rise on top of adjacent
smaller buildings, thereby achieving multiple building
demolitions from a single implosion.) For economic purposes
and to minimize the emission of hazardous chemicals
during demolition or debris removal, recyclable (e.g.,
plumbing and ventilation) and hazardous materials (e.g.,
asbestos and lead [Pb]), respectively, are removed before
the implosion.4 Asbestos removal is federally regulated
under the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air
Pollutants (NESHAP, 40 CFR Part 61, Subpart M). Depending
on proximity, adjacent buildings may be draped with a
heavy-gauge plastic or woven vinyl to prevent damage
from flying debris. Such a precaution likely has a secondary
benefit of reducing dust infiltration. Emissions and
exposure also can be affected by meteorology. Specific
criteria are site-and contractor-dependent; however, in
general, light precipitation with winds in the direction of
sparse population is desirable. Post-implosion settled dust
control strategies include suppression with water and vacuum
Despite these precautions, the potential for human
exposure to air contaminants from urban building implosions
is great because of a combination of high population
density, the enormous particulate matter (PM) emission
rate, and the resulting high PM concentrations. The
exposure potential is further exacerbated by the spectacle
of the event and media promotion that brings community
residents outdoors and to the site, swelling the exposed
population. In addition to the short-term exposure
concern associated with the airborne PM at the time of
the implosion, there is the potential for longer-term exposure
to PM that settles across the community and then
is available to be resuspended and inhaled or ingested after hand-to-mouth contact.
Here’s a more current Google map of the area, showing the current pile of rubble from the partial demolition of the hospital buildings that has been taking place all summer. Also, with the white descriptive boxes removed, you can more easily see just how many homes and residences are within the blast zone. It will be a matter of which way the wind blows that morning to see who gets the worst of the fallout.
DON’T Get to Gates!
Here are a few bullet points for would-be spectators and nearby residents, from the study:
Stay away from the implosion. Watch it on TV especially if you are very young, elderly, have immune problems, or a lung disease like asthma.
Stay indoors. If you live near the implosion, keep your doors and windows closed before and for one hour after the implosion.
Implosion dust can get indoors. Use a damp cloth or mop to clean dust from surfaces. Don’t vacuum the dust. Vacuuming stirs the dust back up into the air.
Rinse sidewalks and door stoops with a hose. The dust settles on outdoor surfaces near or downwind from the implosion.
Remove shoes or use a doormat. This will keep the dust from being carried inside.
Ontario Specialty Contracting, the demolition company performing the planned collapse, is hosting an informational session to answer questions on what the implosion entails at the parking lot located at 637 Linwood Avenue at 5pm on Thursday, September 24.