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3 Killer Safety Concerns for Renovators and How to Avoid Them

3 Killer Safety Concerns for Renovators and How to Avoid Them

Flipping houses and renovating the interiors of old homes might be the trending thing but have you given much thought to the long-term health concerns?

Throwing Shade at those Wall Tear-Down Videos

Okay, I’m just gonna say it. All those videos posted on blogs of renovators tearing down walls with giant sledge hammers or anything else they can find is jacked up! What??

You see all those floating fibers? Slow the video down and take a closer look. That’s right. Those are insulation fibers and even though there may not be much of it left in that old wall, advance with caution.

Asbestos, commonly used in fireproofing, was at peak consumption in 1973 so many homes undergoing remodeling today contain asbestos. More than 10,000 people die each year from asbestos-related illnesses. This gap between exposure and the first appearance of symptoms can range from 10-50 years.

1. If you suspect your home has asbestos, do not disturb it until you read the EPA guidelines or seek help from a professional asbestos removal firm. Asbestos is commonly found in floor tiles, ceiling tiles, asbestos cement, wall panels, boiler insulation, electrical insulation, spray-on fireproofing, wallboard joint compound, wall and attic insulation, asbestos paper and millboard.

You Turned my Chair on the VOCs

There’s another silent killer that will sneak up on you in that old house. Meet the VOCs -- volatile organic compounds released as gases from certain liquids or solids used in cleaning and preparing homes, interiors and furniture for renovation.

According to the EPA, VOCs can be released from paint, paint strippers and other solvents, wood preservatives, aerosol sprays, cleansers and disinfectants, moth repellents air fresheners, pesticides and many more commonly used household, craft, office and hobby products.

Exposure to VOCS can have immediate and long-term impact ranging from dizziness, nausea, eye, nose, throat and skin irritation to damage to liver, kidneys, central nervous system, brain and heart, and can even cause cancer.

2. Be sure to properly vent spaces where VOCs are present, use breathing equipment when advised, evacuate if health effects are observed, and when possible use vaporless products like water-based stains and sealants by PureColor. Technologies like PureColor are made of nano pigments and rival oil-based stains with rich hues that penetrate hardwood and composite surfaces.

Is Getting the Lead Out Always a Healthier Option?

Beware of stripping walls that were painted before 1978. You just might be dealing with lead-based paint. Lead is a toxic metal that can cause serious health problems once it gets inside the body. If you’re not sure, find a trained professional who can use an EPA-recognized lead test kit on the interior that house that you are renovating.

3. Renovators and do-it-yourselfers, especially those residing in the house during renovations, can help prevent lead contamination by controlling the spread of dust during remodeling and repair. Follow these guidelines provided by the EPA.