Beware of These Harmful Building Materials During Spring Renos
The sun is shining again! That means it’s go-time for reno season!
If you’re like most homeowners, the first signs of spring mean it’s time to put all those cooped-up ideas into action. Whether it's redoing your flooring, building that deck or painting the cabinets!
But be careful!
While hammering away, it’s important to consider the materials and processes you use.
Many homeowners have no idea of the impact these materials/processes have on their indoor air quality. And it’s a bigger deal than you think!
Many building materials, products and processes can become a health hazard. That’s why you must know what materials you’re dealing with and how each can affect you.
Are you getting ready to start your first spring project? If so, keep reading!
Harmful Building Materials, Products and Processes
When planning a home project, indoor air quality probably isn't your first thought.
But we’re hoping that after reading this, you’ll be more aware of the potential hazards.
Whether you’re an expert builder or new to the trade, there is always so much to learn. And it’s up to you to ensure you have the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about the health of your home.
So don’t go tearing down walls just yet!
If you’re planning on installing drywall, this one’s a doozy!
Installing drywall dust is messy and time-consuming. While the results or beautiful, the process is anything but.
With all that dust in the air, it’s easy to imagine the effects it can have on your indoor air quality.
There is a safe exposure limit of 15 mg/m3 - set by The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). But according to a recent evaluation by NIOSH HHE, drywall sanders get 10 times that exposure!
This makes them even more vulnerable!
Health Effects of Inhaling Drywall Dust:
- Lung Irritation
- Lung Inflammation
- Respiratory Difficulties
Another common thing you’ll see floating around the air during renovations is wood dust.
Wood dust becomes airborne during processes like sawing and sanding. You can typically prevent exposure to it with effective Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). But don’t forget to wear the equipment during the cleaning process too!
Exposure can happen directly during the process and indirectly when cleaning the area.
Health Effects of Wood Dust Exposure:
- Skin Irritation
- Respiratory issues
Chemicals in Building Materials and Processes
When preparing for a project, you look for the most durable materials. This ensures that the result is sturdy and safe.
But many people don’t realize that the sturdiness of their materials is only one safety aspect.
The other lies in the installation or deconstruction processes, and how they affect air quality.
The installation process usually requires the use of adhesives, sealants and coatings. These products almost always emit VOCs during and after their installation. While some are harmless, others are odorous, irritating or toxic.
During the deconstruction process, you may have to disturb some of these hazardous materials. While they are harmless if left untouched, disturbing them isn't safe. This can cause harmful particles to become airborne.
Below is a list of some common chemicals in building materials and processes.
Formaldehyde in Laminate Flooring
Certain types of laminate flooring off-gas formaldehyde - an odorous and flammable chemical.
This chemical exists naturally in the air at low levels (less than 0.03 ppm). And most people have no problems when exposed to it. But others can experience irritation to their eyes, nose, throat, airways and skin.
Scientists also linked high levels of formaldehyde over many years to rare nose and throat cancers in workers.
Thankfully, the exposure in laying a laminate floor isn't enough to severely harm you.
Note: Do you have laminate flooring in your home made in China between 2012-2014? If so, we recommend assessing your health immediately. The CDC and ATSDR only evaluated certain types of this flooring. That means they may not all be safe for your home.
Off-Gassing Solvents in Vinyl Flooring
Vinyl flooring is another synthetic material replicating a wooden floor.
With this type of flooring, you’ll want to be extremely careful with the installation process.
Most installation processes are harmless. But others emit of-gassing solvents that can affect your air quality and health.
Asbestos in Popcorn Ceiling and Insulation
Asbestos is a heat-resistant fibrous silicate mineral.
Popular placements for this material were popcorn ceilings and home insulation between 1950-1980.
When left undisturbed and isolated, this material is harmless.
But if disturbed (handled, sawed, or sanded), this material can become a health hazard.
If you have asbestos in your home, only allow a professional to remove it.
Lead in Old Paint
Don't start painting or stripping paint just yet! You must first be mindful of the potential hazards.
If you’re planning on stripping old paint in a house built before 1978, there’s lead air pollution to worry about.
Lead is toxic metal with zero safe level of exposure.
You typically have nothing to worry about if you leave the paint untouched and it is in good condition. But if you scrape the paint off or it becomes chipped, the harmful particles become airborne.
Lead is extremely dangerous - causing lead poisoning in almost every system of the body.
Harmful Effects of Lead Exposure:
- Behavioural Problems
- Reduced Cognitive Function
- Brain and Kidney Damage
If you plan to remove lead paint from your home, take the necessary safety precautions. Only allow a trained professional to remove it.
Protect Your Indoor Air Quality This Reno Season
Your indoor air quality is vital to the health of your family and home.
Now that you know what you’re up against, you’re more prepared to get the job done safely!
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