Guest Post: How to be Safe While Renovating a Home

Taking on a do-it-yourself home renovation can be a rewarding challenge, but it may also present unseen dangers. This is especially true of older homes that were constructed with materials that are considered to be health hazards today. The level of danger will be variable depending on how old the home is, but the homeowner should take every possible precaution to avoid or limit exposure to dangerous chemicals.

Asbestos and Lead
Lead-based paint and insulation materials containing asbestos are the two most common hazards in older homes. Lead can be found in dust and soil as well as paint and can create health problems for both children and adults. The threat is greatly elevated during a renovation process when lead dust can be easily inhaled. In the long term, children can suffer from damage to the nervous system and brain while adults can encounter reproductive issues. Any home constructed prior to 1978 can contain lead-based paint.

Asbestos, used in paint texturing and insulation materials, can also enter the body by being inhaled. The tiny fibers settle in lung tissue and may be dormant for many decades before causing serious illness such as mesothelioma cancer, which is aggressive and fatal due to difficulty in treatment. Homes built prior to 1977 probably contain some form of asbestos.

Testing and Safety
If there is any concern at all about hazardous materials in a home, the owner should have the dwelling thoroughly tested before beginning renovation. Aside from lead and asbestos, the home should be tested for mold and radon gas as well.

If dangerous materials are found in a home, they should be removed by a team of professionals before the renovation process begins. Anyone working in the house from that point on should take proper precautions by wearing protective gear throughout the entire process, as there may be trace elements left behind. Gear includes goggles, mask and clothing that covers every part of the body. All workers should shower after finishing for the day just to be safe. Older clothing that can be thrown away after the job will lower the risk of exposure to asbestos, lead and other materials.

With construction costs soaring these days, many people will choose to do home renovation themselves. By taking the proper precautions and having the home tested before starting, exposure to toxic materials can be greatly reduced and health can be preserved.

About the author: Brian Turner is a health advocate and blogger who has recently been researching and writing about the health and safety concerns that one should keep in mind while doing home renovations or DIY projects.