Friday, December 14, 2012

Guest Post: Home Renovation Safety

I've never had anyone want to guest post before so it was very exciting when Brian Turner contacted me about writing a piece on home safety concerns during renovations.  Since safety is and should be the #1 priority when completing home renovations and other projects, I jumped at the chance to see what he had to say.

Home renovation projects offer many incredible benefits, from lower energy bills to updated amenities. Not only do they improve the look, feel and functionality of a home, but they also increase its resale value. Unfortunately, many homeowners are unaware of the potential health hazards lurking behind walls, under floorboards and on rafters.

Those who renovate older homes must be extremely diligent about locating and removing hazardous materials. Homes that were built before the 1980s are likely to contain asbestos, lead and other toxic substances. While some of these materials are safe if they are left undisturbed, renovation activities can
damage them in a way that poses dangerous health risks.

Asbestos Exposure and Cancer Development
When asbestos is cut, sanded or otherwise disturbed, it releases tiny toxic particles into the air. If breathed into the lungs, asbestos fibers can embed in the lining of internal organs and cause cancerous growths. Lung cancer and mesothelioma are two significant diseases caused by asbestos exposure.

Lead Exposure 
Lead is another hazardous material that is often found in older homes. It is more likely than asbestos to appear in homes built before the 1980s. Lead was once widely used in house paint as well as water pipes and other plumbing.

Like asbestos, lead paint is generally safe if it is undisturbed. Home renovations, however, often involve sanding and scraping old paint. The lead in paint chips and dust can cause serious health problems if it is inhaled or ingested.

Minimizing Renovation Hazards
According to the University of Nebraska extension service, homeowners can reduce the health impacts of renovations by hiring a home inspector prior to demolition and construction. Removal of asbestos, lead and other toxic materials are best left to professional contractors and abatement companies. Protective clothing and work gear is essential in older homes. Finally, choosing safe and organic new materials will prevent health hazards in the future.

Thank you Brian for the great reminder of the care we need to take in preparing to do safe home renovations!  For more information, visit his blog!

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