Walls being knocked down, cabinets bursting into pieces, and carpet being ripped from the floor. These are some common things you may see if you’re a fan of home improvement television shows. While the Property Brothers may make it seem like all fun and games, there are a lot of factors that go into renovating a home successfully. Ready to give a new look to your man cave?
Budgeting and planning are an important part of an amazing finished product, but what about the labor that goes along with it? If you’re planning to renovate a home yourself, there are certain things you should be aware of before you even think about swinging a sledgehammer into your kitchen counter.
What the TV shows might not show you are the dangers that come with renovation. Substances in your home that can be hazardous to your health are important to recognize before you begin a remodeling project. If you want to ensure you remain healthy while performing a renovation project by yourself, check out these 5 toxins that may be lurking in your home prior to starting your project.
Asbestos? Isn’t that stuff banned? This is a common misconception about the deadly carcinogenic mineral. While asbestos usage has diminished greatly in the United States, construction products still may contain trace amounts of the mineral, which must be one percent or less of the entire composition of the product.
Asbestos use was very common in building materials prior to 1980. Asbestos-containing materials can be found in homes across the U.S. and it is important to be aware of what might contain this carcinogen, especially if you live in an older home.
If you’re going to be renovating your attic or basement, you should figure out what type of insulation is used in your home. Insulation in these two areas has a high probability of containing asbestos, depending on when your home was built. Chrysotile asbestos is the most common form of this mineral and it was used often in insulation due to its high durability and unmatched flame retardancy.
When asbestos becomes disturbed, asbestos fibers can become airborne. These airborne fibers then have the possibility of being inhaled or ingested. Once in the body, they become embedded in the lining of the lungs, stomach or heart, causing inflammation. The major concern with these fibers entering the body is the risk of mesothelioma. Exposure to the microscopic minerals is the only cause of mesothelioma cancer. Most people diagnosed with mesothelioma do not live past a year. This is partly due to the latency period of the disease. Mesothelioma can take 10 to 50 years to develop and the symptoms often mimic other diseases. When mesothelioma is diagnosed, it is often too late for a successful outcome because of how long it has been developing in the body.
If you think your home may have asbestos-containing materials, you should immediately hire a trained professional. A certified remediation team will be able to test the suspected materials and remove them safely. Asbestos removal should not be attempted by yourself because there is no safe level of asbestos exposure, it’s all dangerous.
Lead is a toxic metal that we associate mostly with paint products. Like asbestos, lead exposure is an issue if your home was built prior to 1980. Lead-based paint products could have been used on both the outside and inside of your home.
Lead-based paint does not pose a serious threat if it is in good condition. The problem arises when the paint begins to flake and deteriorate. If you are creating dust while renovating by sanding your walls or knocking them down, you could be exposing yourself to toxic lead dust.
Lead exposure has serious effects on the wellbeing of small children, however it can affect adults too. Some of the health issues associated with lead exposure are kidney damage, nerve disorders, and memory loss.
Testing for lead is a relatively cheap process. If you are worried your home may contain lead-based paint, these tests are typically accurate and fast. Samples can be tested on site using a portable x-ray fluorescence machine. If results are inconclusive, the paint can be sent to an EPA accredited lab that specifies in lead testing.
Dangerous mold in households is more common than you might think (don’t worry, you can still eat your cheese). Mold Safe Solutions reports that 7 out of 10 homes have some form of water damage or mold. Mold grows wherever there is moisture and can be found anywhere in the house. However, it typically resides in damp areas such as basements and bathrooms.
There are many different types of mold, the most common being cladosporium, aspergillus, and stachybotrys atra, which is black mold. Black mold can be unsightly and spread quickly, so it is important to have this mold removed if it is suspected. Mold can have many short-term effects on your health such as coughing, sneezing, and itchy eyes. Prolonged exposure to this type of mold can be dangerous and cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even bleeding in the lungs.
This is something you should be aware of if you are going to be renovating areas that are often damp. Renovation work can be planned to ensure that mold does not grow in certain areas. If you are renovating a bathroom, it may be smart to replace baseboards with tile to ensure that mold does not have a way to easily grow. There are even bio-sprays that act as a barrier to prevent mold from growing.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
Volatile Organic Compounds are a variety of different chemicals that are used in certain products. They are found in adhesives, sealants, paints and wood preservatives and can have both short- and long-term health effects. VOCs affect air quality and are emitted as a gas from these types of products.
Products that contain VOCs should be replaced if you are renovating. It is important to have proper ventilation and not leave any opened paint cans lying around the house. Low-VOC paints are available and there are friendlier alternatives when it comes to certain adhesives and sealants.
The effect these chemicals have on the body are subject to how long someone has been exposed to them. In the short-term, they may cause someone to feel fatigued, dizzy, and even have an allergic reaction. Long-term effects are similar and in addition, memory can be impaired if exposed long enough to VOCs.
I’m sure you are wondering what the heck this word means, so let’s break it down. Phthalates are chemicals that give plastic its durability and flexibility. It would be common to have polyvinyl chloride (PVC) piping in your home for water storage. Phthalates can also be found in vinyl flooring, wall coverings, and personal care products.
While phthalates haven’t shown a major concern to the health of humans, studies have shown an effect on the reproductive health of animals. If you’re planning on having kids in the future, it is best to replace materials that may contain phthalates as exposure to them over a prolonged period of time and in abundance could have potential health effects.
If you’re going to be renovating areas such as a kitchen or bathroom, it may be smart to invest in copper piping to replace PVC. Not only will this be safer, but it will give you peace of mind knowing that phthalates aren’t being emitted into your water supply.
It is important to understand the potential health risks you may encounter during a home renovation. If you’re concerned that you’re going to come in contact with any of the five toxins listed above, contact a trained professional immediately. While performing a renovation project yourself may save you money, it may make more sense to hire someone who specializes in renovation. If you still decide to renovate on your own, be sure to do it safely!