A kitchen or bathroom renovation can bring many positive changes to your home, but it can also uncover some not so pleasant things lurking beneath the surface. Lead and asbestos are two of the most common hazards that are found in paint, insulation, and other materials used in older homes.
If your home was built before the 1970s and hasn’t been renovated in a while, lead and asbestos abatement might be part of your remodeling project. Here are some tips on what to look for and how to make sure these hazards are removed from your kitchen or bathroom for good.
Lead Health Risks
Lead-based paint was not banned until 1978 and was very common in homes built before that time. According to the EPA, the older your home is, the more likely that it will have lead paint — nearly 90 percent of homes built before 1940 have it.
Health impacts from exposure to lead include:
- Premature birth
- Developmental and behavioral problems in children
- Hearing loss
- Increased blood pressure
- Decreased kidney function
Lead-based paint is only a problem when it starts to deteriorate. When paint chips and falls from the wall or ceiling, it becomes an immediate risk for children who could accidentally ingest it. The dust from peeling paint can also cause problems when we breathe it in.
Lead Paint Removal
Safely removing it from your home requires more than just applying another coat of paint. The lead paint must be completely removed before fresh paint can be applied. Doing that is easier said than done. True abatement is best left to professionals who understand the hazards and can properly protect themselves from it.
Any contractor working on lead paint removal must take part in the EPA’s Repair, Renovation, and Painting (RRP) program. That rule does not apply to DIY, but exposure to lead can increase your risks for the health problems outlined above.
Asbestos Health Risks
If your home has a “popcorn” ceiling vinyl floor tiles or old insulation, it is a likely candidate for asbestos. Once touted for its flame-retardant qualities, it was later deemed unsafe after those same fibers that protect against fire were shown to cause health problems.
Like lead, asbestos was banned from use in home construction in 1978. However, contractors and building companies received an additional eight years to use up existing stock of ceiling tiles and other materials so homes built as late as 1986 could still be impacted.
The main health impacts of asbestos are in the lungs. Specifically, there’s an increased risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma, which is a rare form of cancer found in the lining of the lungs, chest, stomach, and heart.
If you suspect that parts of your home might contain asbestos, the best thing to do is leave them alone until you can have a professional appraisal. The more that walls, ceilings, or other surfaces are disturbed, the more likely it is that the harmful fibers will escape into the air.
There are no federal restrictions on asbestos removal. However, some state or local governments may have their own policies given the danger associated with inhaling asbestos fibers. It’s best to hire professionals for both testing and remediation.
However, the asbestos inspector should be separate from the contractor hired to remove it to ensure that the information provided is not skewed to create increase or reduce workload for either party.
Trust the Professionals
Again, removing lead and asbestos from your home can be very dangerous if not done correctly. Our team at Three Week Kitchens will ensure that the work is performed by certified contractors who can provide documentation that they met all required EPA standards.
Once the damaging materials are removed, you can focus on designing the kitchen or bathroom of your dreams.