Concrete cancer, also known as concrete deterioration, is a serious problem that can affect the structural integrity of a building. It occurs when steel reinforcement within a concrete slab begins to rust, causing it to expand and displace the surrounding concrete, making it brittle and prone to cracking. This can be especially problematic in coastal areas due to the higher salt content in the environment, which accelerates oxidation. Although not immediately apparent to those who spend their days surrounded by this seemingly harmless material, concrete can be hazardous to health.
The main culprit is silica dust, which hangs in the air on construction sites and can cause lung cancer, silicosis (irreversible scarring and stiffness of the lungs), kidney disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease if proper control measures are not in place. It's important to watch for telltale signs that your building may be affected by concrete cancer. You can always call in a structural engineer to accurately diagnose the problem, but you can also look for minor cracks and other damage to the concrete that should be repaired as soon as possible. The cost of treating concrete cancer depends on the size of the surface that needs to be treated and the severity of the damage.
It's recommended that you entrust the work to an experienced professional, as they will know how to repair rather than replace damaged concrete if possible. A particular cancer can be especially difficult to detect where a concerted effort has been made to hide or disguise it. However, concrete cancer can hide under paint or other building material, such as tiles or bricks. Concrete cancer is a serious problem that, if left undiagnosed and untreated, can affect the structural integrity of the building.
It's important to have it checked by a professional (such as repair site builders or waterproofing contractors) if you suspect your building has been affected by this issue.