Adverse health affects from Hamilton demolition dust cloud ‘unlikely’: city

A building on the former Hamilton Specialty Bar site was demolished on Sept. 30 and sent a massive dark dust cloud into the air, spreading throughout north Hamilton neighbourhood. Smash Salvage on Instagram (filmed by Patrick Ferguson)

The city of Hamilton has completed it’s testing on samples from a massive dust cloud that floated over Hamilton’s east end in September, minutes after the demolition of an old steel mill.

In a statement, a group that included the associate medical officer of health, a director from the healthy environments division, and a manager from the health hazards & vector-borne diseases program said the demolition “is unlikely” to result in any “adverse long-term health outcomes.”

READ MORE: Last ditch effort to save Hamilton Specialty Bar falls through

A toxicologist employed by public health services says samples from the community were consistent with ordinary minerals and metals found in a simple dirt sample, with particle sizes of about 20 to 40 microns.

Associate Medical Officer of Health Bart Harvey told Global News the particles in question are too big to be deeply inhaled by typical human lungs as nose-and-throat regions usually trap particulate matter above about 5 microns in size.

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“These particles are so large that they would get caught up in the mucous lining of the nose and the throat and essentially would be sneezed out or coughed out,” said Harvey

Harvey also said the amount of dust they believe was spread into the community was “relatively modest.”


The report went on to say that the samples had no significant trace of toxins or substances considered volatile and that short term exposure poses no risk.

Meanwhile, samples from the demolition site itself turned up mineral dust, metallic pieces, some carbon and trace amounts of toxins which the group said was “not surprising” and also not likely to pose a health risk.


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Click to play video: 'Old Hamilton Specialty Bar building on Sherman Avenue North demolished' Old Hamilton Specialty Bar building on Sherman Avenue North demolished
Old Hamilton Specialty Bar building on Sherman Avenue North demolished – Sep 30, 2019


Residents with questions on the demolition will have a chance to ask questions during a community meeting on Wednesday at the Cotton Factory on Sherman Avenue set for 6:30 p.m.

Ward 3 Councillor Nrinder Nann told Global News the meeting is to address concerns from residents who live in the industrial north end adjacent to where the demolition occurred.

“They’ve been exposed to all kinds of things for a long time. And so, their question is, if I if my baseline is different than a healthy baseline that isn’t exposed to these kinds of toxins on a regular basis, then what about me?”

Moments after the demolition on Sept. 30, videos and photos began to pop up showing dust permeating the air in the Sherman Avenue area between Barton and Burlington streets.

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The dust cloud could also be seen in other parts of the city.


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The building that had come down was a large green structure on the former site of Hamilton Specialty Bar at 319 Sherman Ave. North.

A video of the demolition, filmed by Patrick Ferguson and posted to Smash Salvage’s Instagram, showed clouds of dark black matter billowing out of the building as it crumbled to the ground.

On Twitter, local non-profit organization Environment Hamilton called the footage of the building’s destruction and resulting dust cloud “problematic,” urging residents to contact the Ministry of the Environment.

READ MORE: Hamilton climate strike in Gore Park draws hundreds

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A City of Hamilton spokesperson told Global News that on May 6, four demolition permits were issued to the owner of the former Specialty Bar site, which is a numbered company registered as 10618675 Canada Inc.

The federal government’s website lists the company as having a Quebec address.

Hamilton Specialty Bar closed its doors in 2018 after it went into receivership in January and was liquidated a few months later.

— With files from Lisa Polewski

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