Home Renovations & Hazardous Chemicals

Health and safety are very important considerations when undertaking any renovation works in our homes.  All too often we hear of accidents occurring because someone attempted to do some DIY job they weren’t equipped for or hadn’t got the appropriate tools for.  But another very important consideration when renovating, especially older houses, are the dangerous toxins emitted from certain materials.

I know this is a bit heavy at this hour of the morning folks, but as my father passed away from a Pleural Mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos, this topic is very important to me.  In my dads case, the exposure occurred back when he was only a young man working on building sites, and thankfully today’s Health and Safety legislation protects employees on commercial sites.  But common sense is the only protection home owners have when undertaking projects themselves.

Thankfully Brian Turner, an environmental health and toxic substance safety advocate working with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance is here to offer us some advice on what we need to be aware of before carrying out any home renovations.

Home renovators who are ready to rip apart sections of the house, build new rooms and install new appliances should learn about dangerous chemicals found around the house. Protecting the health of everyone who enters the house is a necessary responsibility. A house, especially a big or old one, could contain many health hazards. The longer that a house has been used, the more likely that toxins have built up. Learning about safety hazards and dangerous chemicals is required to avoid them.


Asbestos was used for insulation and fireproof purposes. The fibers infiltrate the air and become inhaled. Mesothelioma is a direct result of asbestos. When particles are breathed in, the mesothelium of the lungs is likely to be damaged. Asbestos use is banned in modern constructions, but residents of older houses are still at risk.

If this dangerous chemical is likely to exist, any destruction or renovation must be completed by qualified professionals. They know how to find the chemicals and handle the process safely so that there are no residual effects. These workers explain how they remove the substance and protect the remaining house.


Lead is not a common chemical used, but it is still found in many old homes and buildings. It is found in paint, walls and pipes. When corrosion occurs, the chemical is released in particles. When increased amounts enter the blood, people suffer from a range of health conditions. Adults and children have developed learning disabilities, nervous system disorders and brain damage.


Radon is an invisible gas substance created from the decay of radium. It is a dangerous substance because of its radioactivity. The gas could appear anywhere in low or high levels, which is why it is a threat. Radon enters homes and buildings through cracks and builds in lower-level areas. Improperly ventilated areas have the worst effects. Radiation exposure creates lung damage and cancer.

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There is no guarantee that construction materials will be safe. Before a demolition project is done or walls are torn apart, a professional may need to be consulted. Particles that linger in the air will cause a wide range of problems in the future. Knowing about common health hazards is the way to avoid the effects.

Thanks Brian for a very interesting article and for highlighting what we need to watch out for when undertaking renovations and avoid exposure to hazardous materials.  


About Karen

My name is Karen Hughes and I'm an Interior Designer from Dublin, Ireland. I’m passionate about design and I started this blog as a way to connect with others just as passionate as myself. I tend to ramble on about all sorts of things, projects I’m working on, people, places and things that inspire me (and some that don’t). So put the kettle on, get comfy and settle in. I hope you enjoy your visit and don't forget to say hello. Visit my website to find out more about my services and view my work.

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