What You Should Know Before You do Your Own Home Renovations ~ A Guest Post

About a week ago I was contacted by Brian Turner who happens to be a Toxic Substance Safety Advocate with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blogregarding health and safety concerns which we DIYers should keep in mind as we tackle our home projects and renovations. Brian has been an advocate since June of 2007 and has a tremendous amount of research and awareness experience in the area of environmental health risks and environmental carcinogens. Since I have a background in health care as a nurse, I found this information to be of great importance in the effort to keep both ourselves and our families safe from hidden risks which go along with the undertaking of such home endeavors.
So without further delay, please read through Brian's tips and warnings to help keep you safe and in the know.
Chemical Dangers and Do-it-Yourself Projects

Money is tight in this struggling economy. Nevertheless, the winter holidays are fast approaching and you want a new kitchen. The only way you can afford a remodel is to do it yourself.

Home improvement projects are common in times of housing slumps and weak economies. Do-it-yourself renovations are less expensive than hiring a professional contractor, but they can be quite a challenge for homeowners. They also pose potential health risks that are not evident at first glance.

Aluminum Wire Dangers

When choosing the perfect cabinets and countertops for their project, many amateur renovators fail to consider the hidden dangers that lurk in their kitchens. Toxic mold is one example; old wiring is another. Aluminum wires, in particular, poses serious risks for homeowners.

As the demand grows for energy efficient appliances and fixtures, the need for new electrical wires is apparent. Modern electrical systems use copper wiring instead of aluminum. Not only does aluminum pose a fire risk, but some studies link metallic aluminum to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Leaded Paint Dangers

Homes that were built before 1978 may contain lead-based paints, and some plumbing used leaded pipes. Lead is a natural element with beneficial uses, but toxic levels can negatively impact health. Young children and pregnant women have the most health risks from lead poisoning.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), lead exposure may cause brain damage, hearing loss, learning problems and stunted growth in children. Pregnant women risk miscarriage, premature birth and congenital defects. Other adults may suffer from nerve damage, heart disease, kidney damage or reproductive problems.

Asbestos Cancer Dangers

Asbestos exposure is one of the most dangerous threats in home renovations. Like lead, asbestos is an organic substance with desirable properties and health risks. Once used extensively in home insulation and building materials, asbestos is now associated with serious health problems.

Mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of asbestos cancer, is a well-known condition linked to exposure. Asbestos may also cause pleurisy, asbestosis and lung cancer. Removing shingles, tiles and insulation from your kitchen has the potential to damage asbestos materials and release toxins into the air. Damaged asbestos should be handled only by a professional removal service. Homeowners should leave undisturbed asbestos alone.

If your kitchen lies in an older home, be aware of the hidden dangers lurking under the cabinets and behind the walls. Simple home improvement projects are suitable for amateur renovators, but elaborate renovations are best left to professionals. Before starting a remodeling project, weigh your financial savings against the health risks. Arm yourself with information, education, protection and other safety measures before proceeding with the job.
To read more about other safety issues and health concerns which may threaten us as we go on our merry way as thrifters, DIYers and so on, click here to follow Brian's blog. We know how much we enjoy doing things ourselves and take great pride in our accomplishments. Let's just make sure we are doing it the smart way by being sure we have the information we need to keep us all safe during the process.


  1. Great tips and reminders, Barbara! Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. What a smart post, Barbara. I have rehabbed 14 houses and was flipping long before flipping became the in-thing. I think I have probably been exposed to some of these toxins over the years and wish I had known some of this earlier. xo Diana


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