Construction Waste

There are many small remodeling projects happening on campus that generate construction waste. Special handling may be required for some of these types of waste.

Specific Disposal Guidelines:


What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is the name given to a group of minerals that occur naturally in the environment.  These fibers are resistant to heat, fire, chemicals and do not conduct electricity.  Asbestos was widely used in building materials during 1890s-1980s.

  • Friable Asbestos:  Can easily be turned into a dust with finger pressure.
  • Non-Friable Asbestos:  Material that contains more than 1% asbestos, but cannot be pulverized under hand pressure.

Unauthorized persons are prohibited by law from disturbing asbestos containing materials (ACM). All asbestos waste generated on campus must be properly contained, labeled and disposed at a licensed landfill.

Where is Asbestos at UWM?

In general, any building constructed before 1980 may have asbestos containing materials in them.  Facility Services maintains an inventory of asbestos containing building materials.

Some common Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM) include:

  • Thermal System Insulation (TSI) (e.g., pipe insulation)
  • Surfacing material on walls or ceilings
  • Textured surfacing material
  • Acoustical material
  • Transite panels (e.g., garage door panels, fume hood walls, fire walls, etc.)
  • Electrical insulation
  • Fire-proofing material
  • Fire-protective clothing
  • Fire-rated asbestos core doors
  • Fire-stop material and fire-resistant drywall
  • Thermal laboratory gloves and clothing
  • Floor tile (especially 9-inch tile) and tile mastic
  • Vinyl sheet flooring
  • Personal hair dryers (insulating material)
  • Heating pads
  • Siding, Roofing Paper, Shingles and Adhesives
  • Theatrical lamps (insulation)
  • Theatrical (fire) curtains
  • Brake pads / Clutch disks
  • Roofing shingles and adhesives
  • Some varieties of ceiling tile
  • Some plasters
  • Some cements
  • Some spackling compounds
  • Asbestos cement pipe

Why is Asbestos a Hazard?

Studies have shown that individuals exposed to asbestos fibers over a long period of time may develop:

  • Asbestosis
  • Lung Cancer
  • Mesothelioma – cancer of the lining of the chest cavity or abdominal cavity

When asbestos is disturbed and fibers are released into the air, those fibers can enter the body through ingestion or inhalation.  People most at risk are maintenance and construction workers who work on and disturb asbestos in buildings.  Symptoms of asbestos exposure do not appear for 20+ years after the initial exposure.  Smoking and asbestos exposure can increase the risk of asbestos-related diseases up to 90%.

How to Avoid Asbestos Exposure:

  • Never drill, hammer, cut, saw, break, move, disturb or poke any asbestos containing materials (or suspect).
  • Broken and fallen ceiling tiles should be left in place until identified.
  • Broken and damages asbestos floor tiles should be reported to Facility Services.  Do not remove yourself.
  • Waste/debris/dust in an area containing accessible ACM, should not be dusted or swept dry, or vacuumed without using a HEPA filter.  Contact your supervisor if you think you see deteriorated asbestos.

What if Asbestos Fibers are Released Accidentally?

  • Clear the Area
    • Notify all the people in the immediate area
  • Close-off access to the room immediately
  • Contact your supervisor immediately
  • Fill out an “Accident Report”
  • Notify University Safety and Assurances immediately (x6339)

All asbestos related work (removal, encapsulation, etc.) must be performed by authorized asbestos abatement contractors coordinated by Facility Services.

DNR Asbestos Removal and Notification


Capacitor Disposal

For proper disposal of any capacitors containing Polychlorinated Biphenyls, or PCBs, contact Environmental Protection staff. If equipment containing PCB capacitors is to be surplused, the person taking the equipment must be notified of the PCB potential by the previous owner.

Capacitors are used in electrical equipment and can contain PCBs, which are regulated upon disposal. The two common types are running capacitors and starting capacitors. Starting capacitors are used to help start small motors and are usually free of PCBs.

Running capacitors are used to help improve the efficiency of electrical motors. PCBs are often found in running capacitors manufactured before 1976. However, these PCB components have found their way into appliances manufactured as late as 1984.

Starting capacitors typically have a rectangular cross section and are usually housed in a plastic or aluminum shell. Running capacitors are are often larger, usually circular or oval in cross-section, and have a steel jacket. A magnet can be employed to distinguish the two types of jackets.

Household Appliances

PCB capacitors have been found in air conditioners, microwave ovens, furnace blower motors, fluorescent light ballast, and sometimes in refrigerators and freezers. Capacitors used in clothes dryers, dishwashers, hot water heater, garbage disposers and compactors, ovens, ranges and stoves are not likely to contain PCBs. Campus units which have appliances for surplus or disposal must notify the persons taking the appliances of the potential PCB contents.

Industrial and Laboratory Equipment

PCB fluids have long been associated with oil-filled switches, capacitors and transformers. Certain hydraulic equipment, especially hydraulics used in high temperature applications, are known to contain PCBs. Equipment containing electrical motors should be checked for capacitors before disposal. Anyone with equipment manufactured before the late 1980s should be aware of the PCB content potential when surplusing, disposing or servicing the equipment.

For additional information, please contact Environmental Protection.

Ballast Disposal

Ballasts are used in Fluorescent light fixtures. Many ballasts contain an oil filled capacitor, roughly the size of a bar of soap. Ballasts manufactured before 1981 have capacitors containing Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), an environmental pollutant. UWM recycles ballasts. While PCB ballasts are recycled through a commercial processor, the PCB portion is incinerated at a special site licensed to handle PCBs. Other ballasts, not containing PCBs, are also shipped for recycling.
Procedures for Disposal:

  • If you notice any oily substance outside of ballast(s) assume that it could be PCBs and handle appropriately:
    • Handle ballast(s) with disposable gloves
    • Place ballast(s) in plastic bags
    • Put disposable gloves into bag with ballast and close bag securely.
  • If you are not currently on a regular waste pick up schedule, please contact Environmental Protection staff to request a waste pick up.

Lead Disposal

Lead (Pb) Bearing Surfaces in State-Owned Facilities

Elemental lead (Pb) has been used since ancient times in art, plumbing, paint pigments, ammunition, ceramic glass, and leaded gasoline. The primary sources of lead today include soil, painted surfaces of water towers and bridges, and homes built before 1978. Lead can cause a range of health problems when ingested or inhaled, particularly in children and pregnant women. Some of the health effects include increased hearing problems, slow growth, nerve damage, kidney damage, mental retardation, coma, convulsions and even death in extreme cases. Although the use of lead in paint, gasoline additives, solder, pipes and other uses has been significantly reduced, installed products or residuals from their use are present in many State of Wisconsin properties. The most common location is probably lead painted surfaces, particularly in buildings or equipment constructed prior to 1980.

Renovation and demolition projects involving lead bearing surfaces do not typically require special handling of the waste if lead bearing surfaces are not separated from the substrate. Building components coated with LBP can be disposed of as construction and demolition (C&D) waste. However, if a lead bearing paint or surface coating is separated from the substrate, the work may generate a hazardous waste. Paragraph 4, of the General Requirements of the DSF construction documents identifies applicable OSHA standards regarding lead. All renovation/demolition contractors are responsible for compliance with applicable OSHA standards.

Paragraph 31 of the General Requirements of the DSF construction documents identifies cleaning and waste disposal requirements at construction sites. The demolition/renovation contractor is responsible for disposing of waste in accordance with all applicable laws, regulations, codes, rules, and standards. DOA maintains a contract for hazardous waste management and disposal services for disposal of materials that meet the definition of a hazardous waste (Wis. Admin. Code NR 600). The renovation/demolition contractor is responsible for coordinating hazardous waste characterization and disposal through the DSF’s Project Representative. Charges for transport and disposal of hazardous waste under State procurement’s hazardous waste service contract will be paid directly by the State from project funds.

In addition to waste generated by a renovation/demolition contractor, hazardous waste may also be generated by the agency resulting from routine building maintenance activities. In either case, the party responsible for generating the waste has “cradle to grave responsibility” and is responsible for its proper containment and management at the worksite, and is also responsible for its proper disposal.

For additional information, please contact Environmental Protection staff.

Disposal of Transformers

Electrical transformers come in two categories, wet and dry. The dry type transformer is generally not a disposal problem. The wet type transformer may contain oil which contains Polychlorinated Biphenyls, or PCBs. The disposal of any oil-filled transformer should be coordinated through Environmental Protection.

The transformer should be completely disconnected from any power source. If the unit has a large enough reservoir, we will draw a sample to determine whether the oil contains PCBs. Once the laboratory results return, we will schedule a pickup by a contractor specializing in transformer disposal, specifically permitted to handle PCBs.

Once contacted, the disposal contractor can usually schedule a pickup within one month. The pickup will be made from the building where the transformer was used if that building has a loading dock. If the building does not have a loading dock, or the loading dock is for some reason inaccessible or unavailable, contact Environmental Protection staff  to coordinate moving the transformer to an alternate shipment location. Please do not move the transformer without contacting Environmental Protection.

Unnecessary expenses incurred, caused by someone not following these policies, will be charged to the appropriate party or their department.For additional information, please contact staff in Environmental Protection staff.


Molds are a part of our environment, and can be found anywhere, inside or out, where conditions allow it to grow.

  • Outdoors, they break down and digest organic material.
  • Indoors, they may become a hazard by creating a toxic environment for people.

Mold needs Moisture and Food to grow.  Moisture can be from a small leak, condensation, high humidity, etc.  Food for mold would be an organic substance.  Mold can grow on virtually any organic material as long as moisture and oxygen are present.  Molds come in many colors including white.  “Black Mold” is NOT a species or a specific kind of mold – and neither is “Toxic Mold”. (EPA)  Sometimes the news media uses the term “toxic or black” mold to refer to molds that may produce mycotoxins (potentially toxic byproducts of mold).  Molds that produce mycotoxins are often referred to as toxigenic fungi.

Some compounds produced by molds have strong smells.  A moldy odor suggests that mold is growing in the building and should be investigated.  Molds can smell musty or earthy.


  • Eliminating all mold and mold spores indoors is virtually impossible.
  • Controlling indoor moisture will control the growth of indoor mold.
  • Items must be dried or “allowed to dry” quickly (within 24-48 hours) in order to avoid mold growth.
    • Increasing air circulation and temperature will increase the speed of drying.
    • Use large fans and dehumidifiers.
  • Buildings that have been heavily damaged by flood waters should be assessed for structural integrity and remediated by experienced professionals.
  • If visible mold is present, sampling is unnecessary.
  • There are no EPA or other federal standards for airborne mold or mold spores.

Health Effects the may be caused by Inhaling Mold/Spores

  • Allergic Reactions – May be immediate or delayed.  Typical responses include irritation to the eyes, skin, nose and throat of some individuals.
  • Asthma Attacks – Inhalation of mold spores may cause asthma attacks in individuals who are allergic to mold.
  • Irritant Effects – Molds may cause localized skin or mucous infections, but, in general, do not cause systemic infections in humans, except for persons with impaired immunity, uncontrolled diabetes, or those taking immuno-suppressive drugs.

Avoiding Mold Exposure

  • Do not touch mold or moldy items with your bare hands.
  • Do not get mold or mold spores in your eyes.
  • Avoid breathing in mold or mold spores.
  • Use PPE if disturbing mold (N-95 respirator, gloves, goggles).

Mold Clean-up and Prevention

UWM Environmental Services Supervisors can clean small (less than 10 square feet of mold) jobs.  Larger clean-ups would require an outside mold remediation contractor.  The moisture problem must be solved first, then clean-up the areas that contain the mold.

The key to mold prevention is moisture control.  Keep the building and all furnishings dry.  When things do get wet, dry them within 24-48 hours.  Perform routine maintenance, cleaning and repairs.  Have leaky plumbing and other leaks in the building fixed ASAP.  Watch for condensation spots and fix the sources.

More information on Mold can be found at DHS’s and the EPA’s website.