Brian Turner asked me if I would post this article and I said yes, so here it is:
Renovations present a two fold risk to exposing families to potentially dangerous chemicals. First, the demolition of what is being replaced during renovations can release dust, mold and other allergy causing particulates in the air. It can also release asbestos fibers. Asbestos can be found in older tile flooring, ceiling and roof materials, exterior siding, covering pipes and pretty much anywhere else since it used to be widely used. It is associated with mesothelioma cancer.
The new materials being installed will put off volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to one degree or another in the form of gases. New furnishings, cabinets, flooring and other renovation products and materials can release gases such as formaldehyde and benzene. The EPA warns of VOC side effects that include coughing, wheezing, sneezing, burning throats and eyes and skin reactions. Exposure is also associated with long-term systemic effects such as liver and kidney disease.
There are different ways to control exposure. One is to choose a contractor with experience in reducing the amount of particulates that get into the air during the demolition phase. If asbestos is known to be present or discovered, a professional asbestos remediation team should remove the materials. There are also contractors who are aware of ways to control exposure to VOCs released by new furnishings and construction materials.
Most people associate that odor of newness that new products have as being a good thing. However, the very presence of the odor is an indication that the product is off-gassing something. The odor may be something that triggers a severe asthma attack in a susceptible person. It may end up causing harm in the long run. The way to know is to become an informed consumer.
Contact each and every manufacturer of every product and material being used in the renovation of the home. Ask questions about risks of having or using the product in the home. It may be a real eye-opener to some people when they find out the answers. Ask the contractor to save every scrap of paper included with the packaging of the new items being installed. Products do come with warnings about VOCs, yet many homeowners never see the warnings.
The state of California is rigid when it comes to warnings about consumer products. However, it is just a warning. People can still choose to install products that put off more VOCs or worse yet, release lead and other toxic and even cancer causing substances. Though no option in new renovations is perfect, there are choices that can be made between product types to reduce the amount of dangerous chemicals and substances released in a home during renovations.
It takes time to do some research before buying that new set of kitchen cabinets or picking that new carpeting for the living room, but it is worth it. With indoor air being the air most families breathe the most of, it makes sense to take precautions to make it as clean and pure as possible for your entire family.