In the midst of the global pandemic, many homeowners are finding the time to upscale and create a new signature look within their homes. Now more than ever individuals are taking the opportunity to tackle house projects that are constantly talked about, but have never been started. While this is an exciting endeavor, it’s imperative that non-professionals set realistic standards and goals. Working on your house might seem like a fun and easy going experience, however, there are many dangers that could be lurking in the foundation of a house.
Leaving Out Lead Paint
There are many projects that vary based on how simple something is to do and the skillset of an individual. For example, repainting a room is a standard project that can be completed by someone with no level of experience. In fact, if you’re looking for a fun way to shake up everyone’s routine, the entire family can participate. Before you get started stripping paint off the walls, consider the year your home was constructed and be mindful that lead paint may have been originally used. Lead is a very toxic material, particularly for children and this is how the first DIY project can quickly go south.
Although lead was banned in the US in 1978, this material still lingers in many homes. The CDC states that roughly 24 million homes have a substantial amount of lead-based paint hazards, with approximately 4 million of these being in a home with young children. In the early 1900s,the use of lead and other metal compounds were beneficial in creating robust colors and a more diverse range of shades. Since then, it has become widespread knowledge about the health hazards of lead paint, and has been phased out in homes.
Taking Down Radon
Another popular home renovation project to tackle is to finish the basement creating more space for living in the home. Many basements often go unused, and can often become a place exclusively for storage and dust to build up. If you’re interested in creating more space to use in the home, the basement might be a great room to start. However, as with other other projects, there are preliminary steps necessary to take before beginning. Testing your basement for radon should be the first thing completed before moving forward with any projects. Radon is an issue that nearly one in every 15 homes in the United States will experience. This gas is odorless, tasteless, and colorless, leaving homeowners vulnerable to prolonged exposure.
Basements are prone to high radon levels due to the natural gas seeping through cracks in the foundations floor. By buying a radon testing kit, homeowners can easily follow the instructions and receive the results of radon gas detection within 2-3 days. If you’re not confident in conducting the test on your own, hiring a professional is always an option as well. Once that basement is clear of toxic gas, your project can soon be kicked off.
Riddening Asbestos from the Property
If your home was built before the 1980s, there is a chance there are asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) somewhere on the property. Many people tend to assume that asbestos is an offshoot ingredient used in cement and bricks, however it’s much more severe than that. This naturally occurring, fibrous material is microscopic, and was heavily used as a common additive throughout the building of homes and universal household products. The list of where asbestos has been used is endless, however a few common areas to note within the interior and exterior of homes include:
- Roof tiles
- Ceiling tiles
- Duct/pipe insulation
- Flooring tiles
Asbestos is something to keep top of mind if you’re considering a major renovation or any kind of demolition in the home. If asbestos is in the walls, knocking them down could unknowingly expose the DIY-er and anyone who is in close proximity to the project.
While radon and lead paint are two substances that may be tested without a professional around, it’s never recommended to do the same when dealing with asbestos. In fact, since there is no considered safe level of asbestos, a professional should be called prior to any major reconstruction within the home.
Understanding the Harm
The one thing these three toxins have in common is that they all can lead to detrimental effects on your health. Long term exposure to lead paint can cause dizziness, paralysis, high blood pressure, and may even result in death. Radon can cause a persistent cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing up blood and more. If microscopic asbestos fibers are inhaled and ingested, over a period of time time the lining of the lungs become significantly damaged and scarred. This pleural thickening can result in the diagnosis of a number of diseases. Mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer– just to name a few.
Starting big projects around the house can be both daunting and exciting. The best way to begin a project safely is to educate yourself on best practices, what protective equipment to use, and whether or not it’s necessary to hire professionals to ensure the job is done correctly while preserving you and your family’s health.