Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Knowledge is Mandatory: The Bad Side of DIY Home Renovations

While working on your home, chemical exposure can be a serious danger. Many homeowners don't realize when getting into a DIY project that safety should the first priority rather than immediately jumping into a renovation. For DIY home renovations in structures built before 1975, the risks are even greater. Many homes during this time used materials made of asbestos. While undisturbed, intact asbestos is not particularly harmful, when these materials degrade or crumble, they release fibers, which are then breathed into the lungs and can lead to mesothelioma. Remaining knowledgeable and taking the necessary precautions helps DIY homeowners protect themselves and family members.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a widely used mineral-based material that resists heat and corrosion. While released into the air can be silken or rough, much of the fibers cannot be scene with the naked eye alone. These are the types of fibers that can cause serious damage to the human body. Exposure to asbestos leads to the scarring of human lung tissue and can result in mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and abdomen. It can also cause lung cancer and cancers of the esophagus. When working around older homes which include blow-in insulation, vinyl flooring, certain types of linoleum, HVAC dust insulation, siding materials, plaster and other common asbestos materials, you should always wear safety gear and contact a professional to remove exposed areas.

How to Protect Yourself Against Asbestos
If you're not sure what kind of materials you're working with, the first thing you should do is wear a respirator that covers your mouth and nose. In addition, you may want to wear safety goggles, gloves, heavy-duty clothing and boots. However, if you think that any part of your home may be infected with asbestos, the best thing is to have your home tested and monitored for asbestos. The inspector will give you a list of results, including recommendations on repair or removal. The process of removing asbestos is very controlled and careful, as disturbing asbestos can lead to more harm.

How to Remove Chemically Exposed Materials
With materials like asbestos, you can't simply pick up the issue and move it outside. Asbestos fibers are not harmful if intact but when disturbed, they turn to powder fibers that can't be seen in the air, easily breathed in through the nostrils and affecting the lungs. That's why asbestos must be carefully sealed with the right coating or sealant and removed by professionals. When hiring a contractor for this kind of work, remember to check references and previous experience. Any asbestos materials left behind or not sealed correctly can lead to even greater harm to yourself and your family. 

Brian Turner has been working with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance as an environmental health and toxic substance safety advocate since June of 2007. Brian brings a tremendous amount of research and awareness experience in environmental health risks, environmental carcinogens, and green building expertise. Brian is very interested in all types of cars; his favorites are classic, muscle, and imports. Brian is commonly found playing and watching various sports with his friends.