atom dust virginia
A DustBoss Atom unit helped minimize dust as a nuisance during a demo project at The Village Shops at Kingsmill in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Photo provided by BossTek and FelCom LLC.

Interior demo, hold the dust

Contractor for Virginia project uses atomized mist to ensure workers, neighbors protected from demolition-induced dust.

February 23, 2022

A DustBoss Atom device made by Peoria, Illinois-based BossTek has been deployed to help a demolition company protect workers and the surrounding community from potentially hazardous dust during indoor demolition.

As mini excavators demolished the inside of a former shopping center, Moyock, North Carolina-based East Coast Abatement & Demolition (ECD) deployed the Atom, which uses atomized misting technology, for automated particle control. Without needing to assign a person to hold a hose, the Atom prevented dust emissions from remaining airborne or leaving the area.

ECD is a hazardous material abatement and demolition contractor serving northeastern North Carolina and Virginia. The firm was contracted to demolish, recycle, clear and prep the old site of The Village Shops at Kingsmill in Williamsburg, Virginia. Due to its proximity to residential communities and local businesses, the general contractor in charge selected ECD for its experience in the proper handling of hazardous materials and dust suppression methods.

“Owners, general contractors and developers select East Coast because we offer worry-free, turnkey services,” says Ricky Webb, chief operating officer of ECD. “We initiate, perform and execute projects of all sizes and complexities for the private, municipal, commercial and federal markets. We take environmental hazards very seriously, because we want to be good stewards of the communities we serve. From a best practices standpoint, experience has taught us that atomized misting equipment for dust suppression is one of the best safety and compliance tools in our fleet.”

The project involved the demolition of seven structures with a total of  about 81,000 square feet of building space and more than four acres of asphalt flattop. The estimated timeline was from 10 to 12 weeks to take down structures made primarily of cinder block and brick on a concrete foundation. Using a fleet of 12 dump trailers, the site prep involved a complete clearing of all debris with the exception of crushing stone material into aggregate for storage on site.

One of the challenges on the project was the removal of the roofing and floor tile, which both contained asbestos. The task of “soft stripping” these elements is often done by hand to avoid producing excessive dust, but to mitigate potential worker exposure to asbestos fibers, the company employed heavy equipment and the Atom dust control unit from BossTek.

Using equipment instead of manpower for demolition and dust suppression improves safety and drastically reduces the amount of time needed for internal stripping, according to BossTek.

Since the Kingsmill project featured tight areas that had to be addressed with precision, the DustBoss Atom was chosen for its ability to produce a highly pressurized water stream that fractures into a fine mist which can be directed right to the source of dust. Using its oscillating head, the compact unit delivered both airborne and surface suppression using what BossTek calls “a fraction of the water volume of manual spraying,” helping to minimize oversaturation and runoff.

A standard hand-held ¾-inch hose attached to a hydrant generally delivers up to 22 gallons per minute (gpm) of water. Instead of relying on water pressure, the Atom uses a 1-inch hose attachment from a water source running to a pump powered by a 9.1 horsepower diesel engine. The increase in pressure from the pump, rather than relying on pressure from the hydrant, means the design uses only about 7 gpm. “This greatly reduces wastewater runoff and the amount of standing water in the area, allowing the machine to be distant from the water source and still deliver superior dust control,” says BossTek.

With a throw of about 100 feet, the unit’s 0-to-65-degree vertical adjustment and 100-degree maximum oscillation range increases the coverage area to 6,100 square feet, according to BossTek. Using the hand-held remote control, operators can set the oscillation range from the cab of their rig or at a safe distance from the demolition zone.

“A single worker was able to wheel the Atom around by hand, place it, determine the optimum settings and go do something else,” says Webb. “The versatility is great, because if we need dust control in another building or on the storage piles, we can get the unit there quickly, turn it on and walk away. The labor savings alone makes it worth the money, but the safety and ease of use are huge benefits.”

Another advantage, according to BossTek, is that workers can stay protected in enclosed cabs and change the Atom’s settings with a remote control. Another is the dust’s effect on equipment. In the past, workers performing demolition inside structures had to clean the excessive buildup of dust out of equipment air intakes and radiators to prevent engine breakdowns. Since dust is addressed at the point of emission, this activity is reduced considerably, saving maintenance time and protecting valuable equipment.

There have been zero dust-related complaints from neighbors and local businesses during the project, according to ECD. This has had a positive impact on the general contractor’s impression -- as well as the local environmental inspector’s assessment -- of the firm.

“From a perception standpoint, when the public and the city observe these DustBoss units in operation, they are immediately more at ease seeing that the dust is being properly contained,” says Webb. “From a business perspective, general contractors know we have the equipment, safety and compliance measures in place to do the job properly.”

BossTek also says the compact, diesel-powered DustBoss Atom takes up little room, is useful on any site and is easily maneuverable by a single worker on flat surfaces.

“It was great working with the BossTek team to get us exactly the machine we needed to do the job right,” Webb comments. “This equipment has actually helped us capture new business. That’s how much value they bring to our company.”