The construction industry provides shelter, homes, and places of business, as well as the opportunity to rebuild for a more environmentally friendly future. For centuries, it has been an integral part of our ongoing development, progress, and modernization. Despite the numerous benefits provided by the construction industry, it does have a negative impact on the environment.

In this article, we will look at some hazardous building materials and practices, as well as their environmental impact.


Constructing our homes and workplaces is extremely beneficial because it protects us from natural elements; however, each new concrete slab poured and design plan realized harms the environment. Materials used in the construction industry that harm the environment, both in the past and in the present, include

  • Lead
  • Volatile organic compounds
  • Chromated copper arsenate
  • Asbestos
  • Silica
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)


Lead is a low-cost, long-lasting, and versatile raw material used in construction projects. Lead-in cables, wiring casings, paints, surface coatings, and plumbing systems are all available. The use of lead in construction is harmful to human health. It has been linked to gastrointestinal and cardiovascular defects, high blood pressure, kidney issues, anemia, embryotoxicity, neoplasia, bone marrow suppression, and seizures.

Volatile organic compounds

They are chemical compounds with high vapor pressure and low water solubility. Paints, varnishes, caulks, adhesives, carpets, vinyl flooring, and composite wood products all contain VOCs. VOCs contain the following compounds

  • Formaldehyde
  • Acetaldehyde
  • BTEX substances
  • Phenol
  • Glycol ethers

Chromated copper arsenate

Chromated copper arsenate is a compound that contains chromium, copper, and arsenic. It is a wood preservative used by construction workers to keep insects and microbes at bay. The Environmental Protection Agency recognizes the negative effects of CCA on human health, but they continue to allow its use. When you breathe in the emissions from burning wood, it enters your bloodstream. However, efforts to discourage construction companies from using it have only been partially successful, as a number of construction projects continue to use it.


Because of its high resistance to heat, corrosion, and electricity, asbestos was widely used. It was used in the construction industry as an effective insulator. It was also added to other materials by manufacturers to make them stronger and more durable. Over time, we discovered that asbestos exposure is extremely hazardous. It can result in scarring, inflammation, cancer, and other complications. Asbestos has been identified as the cause of mesothelioma cancer and asbestosis, a lung disease.


Silicon oxide is found naturally in rocks, sand, and clay. The environment contains a lot of silica. It is thus one of the most important materials used in construction, particularly road construction. Silica puts us at risk of developing silicosis, a lung disease. Silicosis is an incurable lung disease caused by repeated inhalation of silica for up to ten years. Lung cancer, pulmonary tuberculosis, and other airway diseases can all be caused by inhaling silica.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

 PVC is a synthetic polymer of plastic that is commonly used in the production of pipes. It is also used in construction for flooring, cables, and roofing. Because it is versatile and inexpensive, it is the most commonly used plastic material in construction projects. Although it is a versatile material, it is harmful to our environment. It is one of the world's leading sources of plastic waste. PVC production and use emit harmful chemicals that contaminate the water and food we consume, contributing to environmental damage. PVC is a chlorine-based plastic, and its production can release large amounts of chlorine into the environment. PVC production also produces other toxic chemical elements such as dioxin and dioxin-like compounds.

Environmental Impacts

We can already tell from the list of construction materials above that construction materials have an environmental impact on our surroundings. Furthermore, construction activities both on and off-site has an impact on the environment. The following are some of the environmental consequences of the construction industry

  • Climate change
  • Water pollution
  • Noise pollution
  • Environmental pollution from construction wastes
  • Excessive mining of raw materials
  • High energy usage

Climate changes

The construction industry contributes to air pollution, which degrades the ozone layer and causes rapid global warming. Carbon emissions are produced at all stages of the construction process. The construction process includes everything from the manufacture of building materials to transportation and on-site construction, machinery, and so on. Many of these processes require a lot of energy; in addition to carbon dioxide, construction projects emit a lot of other pollutants into the atmosphere. These pollutants are mostly made up of cement, wood, and stone debris. Construction and demolition debris pollute the air around construction sites. People inhale these toxic elements into their bloodstream over time, causing health problems.

Water pollution

Construction debris pollutes the water in the surrounding area. Toxic chemicals, cement, adhesives, paint, sand debris, and oil find their way into local water sources such as lakes, rivers, dams, and reservoirs. Plants, animals, and humans interact with and consume contaminated water bodies, resulting in health issues such as cancer. Furthermore, construction companies that conduct mining projects to extract raw materials pollute the water. Because the soil, soil exposed to water pollution poses a threat to the plant and animal ecosystem. Water pollution also has an impact on construction projects, which require large amounts of clean water. Water pollution in the environment must be reduced by construction firms.

Noise pollution

Because construction workers use heavy machinery and equipment, construction sites generate a lot of noise. If the construction site is in a densely populated area, the residents suffer from sleep deprivation. However, construction workers are more affected by noise because they are exposed to it for long periods of time. It can result in total or partial hearing loss. It can also cause startling reactions, increased anxiety, and cardiovascular problems. Construction noise also has an impact on animals by disrupting their sleep cycles.

Pollution from Construction Wastes

Construction waste includes any type of debris resulting from building, renovation, or demolition on construction sites. Construction waste products range in size from large to minuscule. Some construction companies do not properly dispose of waste, contributing to environmental pollution. Construction industries should strive to reduce waste from their projects and properly dispose of it. Instead of dumping valuable materials into landfills, they should focus on recycling them.


Large quantities of raw materials are required to complete construction projects. Sand, gravel, clay, calcium carbonate, water, aggregate, wood, iron, bitumen, aluminum, and vehicle fuel are examples of raw materials. These natural resources, however, are at risk of depletion due to the rapid pace at which construction companies build infrastructure. Construction is one of the world's largest consumers of raw materials. And if construction volumes continue to deplete nonrenewable resources, depletion is unavoidable.

Sustainable Construction

We should carry out a construction project using environmentally friendly materials and processes. Sustainable construction aims to reduce the negative effects of construction on our health and the environment, allowing the industry to meet emission reduction targets while also reducing fuel consumption.

Wrap Up

Many people have never considered the environmental impact of building on our local environment. The environmental impact of construction affects not only the plant and soil ecosystems but also humans. If construction companies do not practice sustainable construction projects, our health is jeopardized.