An increasing number of homeowners opt for cutting renovation costs by taking on the task of destruction and reconstruction projects. Houses built before 1970 may harbor a number of hazardous materials that include asbestos, lead and radon. Releasing these substances into the air poses a health risk to household members. Consulting with a professional contractor or home inspector eliminates any surprises and provides homeowners with necessary information concerning possible hazards requiring expert attention.
Contractors commonly used asbestos containing materials when building homes until the later part of the 1970s. Insulation around furnace ducts, roofs and walls along with deck under sheeting commonly contained asbestos. Attempting renovations in homes built during this era often releases microscopic fibers into the air, which individuals ingest or inhale if not properly protected.
These fibers embed in lung and organ tissue, causing a variety of illnesses that include mesothelioma cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends against disturbing these areas unnecessarily. If insisting on renovating home areas that may contain asbestos, hire professionals qualified in asbestos removal.
Government regulations stipulated that paint could not contain lead after 1978. Before that year, lead was an ingredient in paint used for exterior and interior surfaces. Stripping these areas improperly, releases minute particles into the air, which poses a potential hazard. Hiring a professional who is trained specifically in dealing with lead paint remains the general recommendation.
The Center for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development formulated a Lead Paint Safety Guide for homeowners and professional contractors. Some of the steps required for safely eradicating lead paint include isolating the room using heavy plastic on doorways, floors, windows and furniture remaining during the process. Turn off air conditioning and heating systems prior to starting removal, which decreases the likelihood of circulating particles. Dampen or mist the surface containing lead paint before attempting removal.
Soil commonly contains small quantities of uranium, which produces radon gas with deterioration. The gas seeps into homes through cracks or crevices around the foundation of homes. Structures containing crawl spaces also commonly emit radon gas. With exposure occurring over extended periods, radon has the potential for causing cancer. The Surgeon General states that radon emissions ranks second as a leading cause of lung cancer.
Homeowners should purchase an inexpensive short-term radon test kit for determining radon levels before renovating areas along the foundation. If test kits reveal radon levels of 4 picocuries per liter or higher, the home requires reduction methods that minimize the levels of gas emission. The Environmental Protection Agency provides extensive information concerning the effects of radon along with methods of emission eradication.
by Brian Turner