Renovations can make an older home feel new again.
But your Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) during home renovations can also be impacted by renovations as the air fills with dangerous chemicals and other contaminants that put your health at risk. It’s important to protect your home’s Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) throughout the entire renovation process:
Demolition: Lead, asbestos, and other contaminants are a danger
Demolition is generally the least pleasant and most dangerous step in renovation, at least in terms of IAQ. Dangerous pollutants are released by tearing out old drywall, masonry and flooring, and by stripping and sanding paint. Even in newer homes, demolition can stir up harmful particulates, biological contaminants, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Hire only properly trained, certified professionals to handle the demolition process, especially if you suspect that lead or asbestos are involved.
Product selection: New products can release gases
It’s fun to pick out new cabinets, countertops, flooring, and paint. But when it comes to your home’s IAQ, it’s important to focus on what those products are made of and how they will be installed.
New products and installation materials can release (“off-gas”) VOCs that can affect your home’s IAQ. VOC sources can include caulks, sealants and coatings, paints, stains, and varnishes. One of the most common and dangerous of these VOCs is formaldehyde. Normally a naturally occurring compound, formaldehyde can cause respiratory symptoms, such as eye, nose, and skin irritation, and has been directly linked to nasal cancers, throat cancers, and leukemia.
Also, the components themselves—new carpeting, laminate and vinyl flooring, wall coverings, and pressed-wood cabinets—off-gas VOCs for months or even years to come.
When selecting components such as flooring, carpeting, countertops, cabinets and paint, choose low- or no-VOC options. This will help prevent IAQ problems in your home both during and after renovations.
Installation/Construction: Dust can trigger breathing problems
The installation of new components comes with its own IAQ issues.
If materials such as stone, tile and wood are cut inside the home, this can create dust that triggers breathing problems, runny nose, and watery eyes, especially in those with allergies. Some products, such as engineered stone made with epoxy resin and chemical hardeners, can give off dust that is toxic.
Plan ahead and pay attention to Indoor Air Quality at each critical stage of renovations. By doing this, you can help safeguard your home’s IAQ throughout the renovation process. Breathing clean air during and after renovations will help you stay healthy and happy as you enjoy the many benefits of your home improvements.