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Chemical risk in civil construction industries and cement production

The construction sector as well as the cement manufacturing industry are two sectors where chemical hazards exist, even if they are not well-known. Indeed, people working in the construction field have to work with various chemicals such as solvents, resins, glues, pesticides, cement… Cement represents a major problem in this sector as well as for the cement manufacturing companies. Cement dust can get stuck everywhere and in contact with water can cause chemical burns (for example in contact with sweat).

Chemical risk

In the building and public works industry, chemicals are used during various operations, such as: Wood machining, treatment and gluing.

The accidents occur during:

  • Preventive treatment of wood, near dipping tanks or spray devices.
  • Wood gluing, near roll or curtain spreaders (glue, formol).

Products used:

  • chlorinated pesticides: phenol, lindane
  • solvents: ethylic, butylic, acetone, perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene, polyvinyl chloride, tetrahydrofuran
  • glues: resorcinol, neoprene, phenolic, amine hardeners
  • formol, formaldehyde

Terrace sealing

The main risk is when cold coating is applied using solvents and thinners (toluene, xylene).


Urea formaldehyde foam is used with one component containing an acid hardening solution (phosphoric acid or hydrochloric acid).

There is also a splash hazard during equipment cleaning, especially using chlorinated solvents.

Products used:

  • urea formaldehyde resin
  • polyurethane resin, chlorinated solvents, neoprene glues, glues and resins, binders, pigments

Substrate preparation and painting

Use of lyes, solvents and alkaline strippers.

There are also risks during cleaning of old paint, metal part degreasing, stopping and plastering (solvents).

Products used:

  • lyes and alkaline paint removers: sodium carbonate, calcium carbonate, caustic soda, potash.
  • chlorinated solvents: perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene, acetone, methylene chloride, etc…
  • thinners: butylglycol, ethylglycol, methylglycol, acetate, etc…
  • resins: polyols, amines
  • mineral pigments

Wall and floor covering

Use of solvents and resin-based glues during plastic covering operation causes accidents.

Focus on a specific product: Cement

Cement is commonly used in the construction sector and represents a chemical risk because of its caustic nature. This risk is also present in the cement manufacturing industry.

Chemical hazards, especially in:

  • steam plants (hot cement splashes)
  • laboratories (for quality control)
  • water treatment (some plants have their own water treatment area)
  • Storage & shipping (dust of cement powder in bags ; wet cement in )
  • grinding (dust)

Most of the raw materials used are extracted from the earth through mining and quarrying and can be divided into the following groups: lime (calcareous), silica (siliceous), alumina (argillaceous) and iron (ferriferous).