As early as the 17th century, it was noticed that pollution caused staining and degrading to the colour of buildings in the UK.
Understandably, climate change and pollution is most regularly thought of as a global, planet warming issue. But the effects of pollution and climate change go beyond this very serious issue and has daily affects on the very stonework that makes up the landscape of buildings across Scotland. Natural atmosphere has always caused issues with deterioration of building stonework in Scotland. The salty air of coastal towns has always played havoc with building structures and accelerated the rusting of metal building structures. But the visible carbon staining of traffic pollution in built up city environments like Glasgow and Edinburgh has seen the most obvious impact of climate change pollution on building stonework.
Why is this a problem?
Some of the biggest climate change pollutants that can damage stonework are:
- Carbon Monoxide
- Sulphur Dioxide
- Nitrogen Oxide
Carbon dioxide, the biggest green house gas, combined with water in the rain creates carbonic acid which lowers the pH of the rain from around 7 to something closer to 5. Mix in some sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide and the acid level increases and creates something more closely referred to as ‘acid rain’. No don’t worry. This is not acid rain like you will have seen in the horror movies. But the increased acidic level of the rain that falls because of this increased climate change pollution is damaging the stonework of buildings in Scottish cities.
In the early decades of the 20th century when homes across the UK relied heavily on coal as a fuel source, the high sulphur levels in the atmosphere created a heavy blanket of sulphur dioxide which was strong enough to create a chemical reaction that in some more dramatic cases, caused the stonework of buildings to literally peel away.
But climate change and acid rain is not the only issue affecting the stonework of Britain. As temperatures rise and rainfall increases, combined with daily temperatures rises, will begin to cause more penetration of stonework in buildings. The saturation of sandstone will activate the salts within the stonework causing an acceleration of the stonework decay.
Stonework decay is effectively where the accumulated crystallisation that takes place in stonework causes an increase in pressure of the walls of the material causing the stone to crumble.
Beyond the acid rain that causes the stonework to dissolve and peel away as well as the decay caused by crystallisation, there is the actual carbon staining of stonework to contend with.
Every day, the buses, cars, taxis and motorbikes that drive through the city. It is estimated that 1 litre of petrol gives off 2.37 KG/CO2 into the atmosphere. With every passing minute of rush hour in Glasgow city traffic, this emits large amounts of carbon soot that can stick to the walls of buildings and over time cause staining. Beyond the issues with damage to the stonework, it also creates an unsightly visual that detracts from the buildings unique architecture. There are many truly stunning architectural feats in Scotland’s cities yet carbon staining, pigeon fouling, a build up of biomatter such as moss and algae (accelerated by climate change) are detracting from the original beauty of theses buildings.
What can be done about it?
While Climate Change is a global problem that we all need to be involved in the change, the cleaning and safe removal of carbon staining, salt build up and bio matter growth can all be handled by our Cleaning Contractor team.
We are Balmore and we are a leading specialist stone cleaning company. Based in Glasgow and covering all of Scotland and the North of England, we are equipped with a team of professional building stonework cleaning experts and the right tools for the job.
TORC Stonework Cleaning is an advanced cleaning method that is the preferred choice of various heritage organisations across Scotland and England. It can gently remove carbon sulphates, brittle paints, limescale, moss and other bio matter from stonework WITHOUT damaging the building surface.
DOFF Steam Cleaning uses super heated steam to remove paint and bio matter like moss and algae from stonework. It uses no chemicals yet is brilliantly gentle to the stonework because the pressure of the steam coming out of the novel is so gentle.
Our DOFF Steam System can also be used as a Softwash system for stonework cleaning.
With these two advanced sandstone stonework cleaning tools, we can offer a class leading service to customers who want their building sandstone cleaned and returned to its former glory.