Depending on the renovation job you decide to take on, the process may differ. However, the one thing that does not differ is the safety precautions that must be followed. Throughout the renovation process there may be issues that arise, and being educated on those potential risks will allow you to be more prepared and to feel safer throughout the project.
When working on a project, the age of the property will play a major role in the concerns you might face. Depending on the year the home was built, different materials may have been used, and some of those materials may contain toxic elements. This could be anything from the paint on the walls, to kitchen appliances. Even the floor and ceiling tiles could be putting your health at risk if not taken care of properly.
Radon is a gas that is colorless, odorless and tasteless, which can make it difficult to detect in the home. Radon is produced naturally from the earth and is a result of chemicals breaking down into the soil, ground water, and rocks. Through this, radon can seep into homes through cracks and breaks in the foundation and walls. If exposed to a high level of radon, over time, lung cancer and other illnesses may occur. Because radon can not visibly be seen, a substantial amount of time may pass before someone knows they are being exposed.
Before beginning any renovation in and around the basement or lower levels of the homes foundation it’s suggested to have the homeowners test for radon exposure before your team begins work. If you are planning a project that involves structural work, be aware of any breaks that are created in the foundation or walls of a building, as they can allow for radon to leak in.
Knowing if the space has been tested first will provide a strong place to start by preparing the renovation team with the right knowledge before work is done. A radon test can be easily purchased, and performing the test is simple. Since radon is produced in the ground and in soil, the test must be performed in the lowest livable area.
If radon is found within a property, do not begin work. Depending on the levels of radon detected, a mitigator will need to be called. After this, a proper radon reduction system must be put in place to ensure the future safety of those living in the home. This will also ensure the renovation project can continue without harm to those doing the job.
This well known toxin can be found in many buildings today, even though the product is no longer utilized in buildings and products. To know if a property has lead paint on premises, it can be helpful in doing an at home lead test kit. If the building was painted before 1980 there’s a high probability the paint has lead in it. Although most people change the paint color by this point, oftentimes instead of striping the paint it is just painted over, which means lead paint could still be a problem within the property. When the paint is disturbed, flakes will become airborne and may be inhaled.
Although lead poisoning is most often affiliated with paint, it can also be present in soil, and water. Lead poisoning can be detrimental to health, as lead can build up over time and become increasingly more dangerous. Because symptoms usually don’t appear until a high amount of lead is in the body, it is even more important to be aware if you plan on working on a project that requires the stripping of old wall or ceiling paint. Symptoms may include high blood pressure, joint and muscle pain, headaches, and more. If lead is discovered during the renovation project, it is important to remove it safely which may require a lead removal professional depending on the amount discovered.
Asbestos is a natural mineral that was once a popular building material due to its strength, as well as its resistance to chemicals and heat. Although it is now banned in 70% of the world, it is still a health danger everywhere. Unfortunately, that does not mean it is still not a potential hazard that could be discovered during a renovation project. If a home or building was constructed prior to the 1980s, it’s possible this toxicant may still be present.
Asbestos can be found in a number of places throughout a building, such as the roof, boilers, window panels, flooring, insulation, and even the water tank. Being aware of the presence of asbestos on a project before work is done is a step that can not be overlooked. Asbestos is significantly less dangerous unless disturbed, but unfortunately this disturbance can take place before even knowing the asbestos is present. Firstly, find out if the property owners know when the property was built so you can know if you or your team are at risk. If it is believed that asbestos is present, the hiring an abatement specialist will be safest for those working on the project. The safe removal and disposal of asbestos will protect the health and well being of those working on the job. If asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, there can be many health implications involved. Exposure to asbestos has been linked to asbestosis, as well as lung disorders, and could even result in a terminal cancer diagnosis.
Although you may be considered a professional, it’s always important to stay up to date on the latest dangers, and know the space you are walking into. Whether working on a new build, or helping someone turn an old building into their dream office space safety will always be first and foremost.
On september 26th we recognize Mesothelioma Awareness Day. A time to show support and educate those on a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Show your support and learn more at curemeso.org.