Renovating a house is an exciting time, but also one which needs to be approached with caution. Many of the materials used to build our homes are perfectly safe in their static state but when they are torn down and broken apart they become altogether more deadly. So here are 4 commonly found materials to watch out for.
PVC is a type of plastic and is also referred to as polyvinyl chloride. PVC is a very common material used throughout the building trade because it is cheap and readily available. It is most commonly used in pipework, guttering and the insulation of electrical cables but is also used in sewerage systems. When left alone PVC is non-threatening but when sawn apart it becomes hazardous as it releases PVC dust which can be inhaled into the lungs. PVC dust is a carcinogenic and contains dioxins and phthalates that can interrupt the bodies natural hormones and affect the basic function of the thyroid gland, pituitary gland and reproductive glands. If you need to saw through PVC pipes take the necessary precautions and wear a face mask.
Asbestos is one of the most well known hazardous building materials and for good reason. Used prolifically in older homes asbestos has been found to cause very harmful diseases such as mesothelioma which is a type of cancer. Given its deadly track record asbestos is now banned in most countries but was originally used to help fireproof buildings and insulate boilers due to its heat resistant properties. If you are renovating a home or building that was built prior to the 1980s then you will likely find asbestos in your ceiling tiles, walls or used as insulation around your boiler. If you’re concerned that you may need to deal with asbestos during your project then you can always use asbestos testing services to determine the severity of your issues and help you with the safe removal of the asbestos materials.
Lead is another commonly used material that is in fact highly toxic. Ingesting or coming into regular contact with lead can cause a build-up of lead in the body leading to lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can cause severe mental and physical impairments and be fatal. Children are most at risk of lead poisoning due to them often putting things in their mouths and their smaller body sizes. If you are dealing with lead roofing material or lead pipework wear gloves and a face mask and wash your hands thoroughly after use.
Fibreglass is still a commonly used insulation material as it is very effective and if your home has insulation then the chances are that you have fibreglass hiding in your roof. As its name suggests, fibreglass is made up of tiny fibres of glass, which, when they come into contact with your body can cause serious irritation and if they are ingested into your lungs or make their way into your eyes they can cause even more serious health issues. Wear long-sleeved clothing when working in your loft space and remember to also use a respiratory mask and eye protection especially if cutting open fibreglass blocks.