Whether shopping for a new home needing renovation or giving an old home a new look, several considerations need to take place. The most important consideration is, of course, safety. Sure, home renovation can be an exciting process. We get to open up floor plans, replace fixtures and tear off faded wallpaper. However, renovating an older home can present some unique challenges. Though details like wiring and structural integrity might need to be addressed, especially in Northern climates, other serious concerns need to be addressed. Older homes were not subject to current codes and building restrictions, so many precautions should be taken before you start to tear out walls and burrow through layers of linoleum.
Chemical awareness, specifically, is important. Many families fail to take the necessary defenses against such chemicals because they’re difficult to pinpoint. One of these difficult-to-locate chemicals is lead. Since 1991, the United States has identified it as a huge health risk because older paints contained it and because it is easily absorbed into growing bodies. Plus, young children carry a greater risk of ingesting the flaked paint. Thankfully, because the dangers are now so widely known, many families have replaced the toxic paint in their homes.
However, lead was also used in many other products before it was known how dangerous it was, which is why it’s so difficult to track down. Lead used to be present in other products, like gasoline and pipes. Therefore, there are plenty of ways people, especially children, can get exposed to this chemical. In addition to deteriorating paint, lead exposure can occur through the air, in the form of lead dust, in drinking water, in food or even in contaminated soil.
Another common chemical in older homes is asbestos. Although popular in construction as recently as the late 20th century, this natural mineral poses huge risks if exposure occurs. Once used as an insulation because of its fireproof qualities, heat resistance, chemical endurance and electrical insulation, this material has since proven toxic. It poses a serious cancer threat when broken, jagged or shredded, which allows it to be released into the air and breathed into the lungs.
Like lead, this chemical has also received a lot of attention. However, its prevalence in past construction makes itan ongoing problem, especially as older homes are remodeled and the aged mineral is exposed. Mesothelioma, the name of the disease associated with asbestos contact, is actually a cancer. If exposed, there are four possible forms of this disease, with the most common developing in the lining of your lungs. Worse still, mesothelioma symptoms generally don’t show up until 20 to 50 years after initial exposure to asbestos. Although asbestos is now recognized as a cancer threat, its use is still legal in some products in controlled quantities.
Because certain chemicals can cause serious health concerns, home remodeling needs to be taken seriously. Renovation might actually disturb these chemicals that were previously enclosed. Asbestos may appear in several forms, including a solid one, a form resembling insulation or even as dust, so understanding where it might be found is especially important. Lead, too, can take several forms, including dust, making introduction into the body easier. Therefore, undertaking renovation projects successfully includes having both the ability and patience to recognize these chemicals so you can remove them.
The above article was provided by guest blogger, Alex Johnson.