The Health Hazards of Home Remodeling

by Rachel Laurendeau on October 28, 2013

home remodeling WestfieldWe all love the excitement of starting a new home improvement project, but how often do we stop to consider the possible health hazards involved in our projects?

In the article by Kelly Pate Dwyer of SwitchYard Media, “Checklist: 10 health hazards to avoid when remodeling” that I was reading on the MSN Real Estate website recently, I read about a number of hazards that caught my eye and I wanted to share them with our My Home Improvement readers. We’ve talked about some of them in previous posts but it seemed like a good idea to summarize them and put some of them together here.

1. Asbestos. Asbestos exposure can increase the risk of developing severe lung disease, a condition called asbestosis as well as certain types of lung cancer. “Asbestos can be found in wall, heating and plumbing insulation, siding, roofing, flooring, caulking, window glaze, drywall, joint compound and plaster. Any project that involves exposure to old insulation or cutting through walls, floors and roofing in homes built before 1980 are most likely to need testing [by an environmental consultant] and abatement.

2. Lead. “Lead can be anywhere you have old paint, indoors and out. It also can be found in soil, water and pipe soldering.” It is typically found in homes built prior to 1978 and it is best to work with a lead-certified renovator or home remodeling contractor.

3. Mold. Mold is most often found in humid parts of the house such as the basement, bathroom or kitchen in areas where there have been plumbing leaks or water seepage. It can cause a number of allergic reactions, asthma and other health problems and should be remediated by professionals.

4. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are emitted by the vast majority of building materials and can cause a wide variety of health problems and irritations. “When possible, choose low- or zero-VOC paints and other finishing materials. Wear a mask and goggles and keep air flowing while working with VOCs inside your home.” If you are working with a general contractor, ask them about using products with fewer VOCs.

5. Pressure treated wood.If your remodeling or landscaping project involves cutting or moving pressure-treated wood, wear gloves. Do not grind the wood or burn it.” This applies in particular to structures built prior to 2004 when chromated copper arsenate, or CCA, was used to treat the wood.

There are a number of other hazards to consider, particularly for you DIYers out there. Everything from safe work on ladders to safe disposal of toxic materials like solvents or mercury found in old thermostats and fluorescent lights, radon seepage into your home and possible electrical fires from old or faulty wiring. Keep your eye on our page for more information on these and other topics in future blogs.

Reference: MSN Real Estate

Google+ Comments

Previous post:

Next post: