Dust Control During Demolition

We have all learned in the last several months how vulnerable our lungs can be without us even realizing it.  As we go about our daily lives, we encounter many foreign, though microscopic, invaders which can damage our lungs. However, one such invader is often visible but no less dangerous, and this is the dust…

dust control during demolition

We have all learned in the last several months how vulnerable our lungs can be without us even realizing it.  As we go about our daily lives, we encounter many foreign, though microscopic, invaders which can damage our lungs. However, one such invader is often visible but no less dangerous, and this is the dust created by demolition projects.

At Alpine Demolition, we know that you are concerned with the safety of your communities, and that does not change when a demolition project is underway. The safety of your family, neighbors, friends, businesses, and community is at the forefront of our demolition planning. After all, safety isn’t just a slogan; it’s a way of life.

We care about your community, too, so we “dust” off the handbook to ensure we have the best dust control during demolition – no matter what the project requires.

What is dust control?

When a demolition project arises, there are usually many considerations in the minds of the city or county commissioners. Community leadership thinks about the cost, potential revenue from a rebuild, rerouting traffic, and a myriad of other concerns inherent in the project.  One thing community leadership often overlooks is how the dust created by the demolition project will be corralled.  Dust control is the process by which we prevent or greatly diminish the emanation of dust from our demolition site into your community. 

What causes the dust?

Most of us think about dust in the context of our own homes, and so it may be counterintuitive to give “controlling dust” much thought. The type of dust that invades concurrently with a demolition project is created by the breaking down of constructed materials.  Concrete, cement, bricks, cement blocks, wooden beams, crumbled mortar, shattered glass and dirt all contribute to the dust that accompanies a demolition.

There are differing dust control types based primarily on the type of dust and the size of the dust particles. The breaking down of a red brick will create different dust than the pulverization of a cement floor, which will also vary greatly from the pulp and fibers of a crushed wooden beam.

Can dust be controlled?

The good news is, though we cannot avoid the creation of dust during demolition, we can absolutely control dust from wreaking complete havoc on your city block.

The level of dust control during demolition varies depending on the location where the deconstruction will take place. At Alpine Demolition, we consider the level of care needed by evaluating the location’s proximity to nearby buildings and their occupants.  The highest level is for populations with greater sensitivities – this includes hospitals, retirement homes, populations of immunosuppressed individuals, or those who are health compromised.

The dust risk levels range from outdoor projects located in an area that is removed from sensitive populations, and to the most extreme, high sensitivity work areas near vulnerable populations.[1]

At Alpine Demolition, we are aware of these important distinctions. We take great care to ensure the safety of our projects and cater our protocols to the individual needs of each demolition.


Mist cannons are great resources to reduce airborne dust particles.  This process is also called electrostatically charged fog or atomized spray. These machines manage dust on our demolition sites by creating a mist that is “fired” into the air surrounding the demolition.  The mist then works effectively to encapsulate dust in the mist microdroplets.  The airborne particles then fall to the ground; this process is called “air washing.” Air washing by way of a mist cannon can be utilized both indoors and outdoors.[2] 

Surface Saturation

This technique is exactly what it sounds like it is.  Also called surface wetting or surface suppression, with this dust control during demolition technique, the potential dust source is saturated. Generally, the demolition team will use movable sprinklers or hand-held hoses to wet the surface to be demolished.  Once the surface is wetted, the particles will be enveloped in the water-soaked material and prevented from becoming airborne. Surface saturation can cause other safety issues, as the water will naturally pool after the surface is soaked.  This technique also requires more staff and takes longer.[3]

Negative Air Machine

The negative air machine essentially works like a vacuum cleaner for the air.  These machines work by using a combination of a powerful fan, an exhaust hose, and filters.  The negative air machine can filter at various volumes, usually 600 cubic feet per minute or up to 1000 cubic feet per minute.  A demolition crew will seal the room by using tarps, doors, tape, or plastic sheets to create an ideal circumstance to use the negative air machine.  Once one opening remains, the machine is set up to pull dust from the sealed room and expel it outside or in a designated area.[4]  As you probably noted, these machines can be very effective, but they are better suited for indoor demolition projects.

Wet x 3 Method

Another useful method is called “Wet Wet Wet.”  This method requires the demolition site is soaked before deconstruction begins.  Then, a specialist sprays the point of demolition for the specific area.  Finally, once the demolition is complete, the debris is loaded onto trucks to be disposed of, so a specialist continually sprays the debris during this process to keep dust from being airborne during the movement.[5]

Your next step with Alpine Demolition

Now that you are familiar with the different levels of dust precaution, protocols, and options for dust control during demolition. If you have any questions or concerns about the dust control options we provide or any questions about the level of precaution your project needs, we are here to help. Contact us with any questions about your next demolition project.

You may also be interested in our safety and cleanup protocols. Click here to see the steps we take to ensure your demolition job is safe and efficient.  You may also be interested to learn about our cleanup services after a demolition, so click here for more information about our cleanup services.

Please reach out to us with your questions and concerns or call at 630-761-0700.

[1] https://ehs.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/dust-control.pdf

[2] https://www.spraystream.com/en/products/mist-cannon/

[3] https://bosstek.com/demolition-dust-control-and-hazards/

[4] https://www.thisoldhouse.com/westerly-ranch-house/21016300/how-to-control-dust-during-demolition

[5] https://www.dtspecializedservices.com/blog/posts/view/218/the-%E2%80%9Cwet-wet-wet%E2%80%9D-demolition-dust-control-method

From our Clients

  • Spoke with Marie Portis, District 1, who wanted to pass on they were very pleased with the performance of your staff. They raved about the professionalism and quality of service received.

    Patrick Kelleher - IDOT
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