Kitchen Remodeling and Toxic Exposure #1

...and visit our website to find out about expert IKEA Kitchen Design Services

Remodeling a kitchen can be an exciting challenge and aesthetic adventure. Reading up on, or consulting professionals about cabinets and design, appliances, tile, lighting and more is part of the process that can result in a wonderful new space for living.

As with all things, there is a serious, even dangerous, aspect to remodeling that every homeowner should learn about during their planning phase. Once you know about toxic exposure hazards in remodeling, you will want to take the steps that will prevent you and your family members from undue exposure. If you have young children in your home especially, a remodeling process that incorporates proven strategies for containing toxins is vital to develop.

Some of the toxics you might want to investigate as you plan your remodel include lead, asbestos, radon, VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and mold. To get you started and because it is one of the most common toxins in remodeling, here is a small amount of data on lead paint issues:

More than three quarters of the homes in the US contain lead paint, which was banned in 1978 in the US. It was banned in 1920 in many other countries. Note that the US ban in 1978 did not immediately remove all lead paint products from the market  so it is wise to ask your contractor, or a lead paint specialist, to test your walls before any remodeling work is done even if your house was built in the 80s or later. Most homes have many layers of paint on their kitchen walls and any layer with lead paint, disturbed during the remodeling process, is truly hazardous.

Lead paint exposure comes from tiny particles of barely visible lead dust. Inhaled dust can result in lead poisoning which is a serious disease that can, especially in young children, cause learning and developmental disabilities and other serious problems in adults. The primary source of lead poisoning is from particles of lead dust from deteriorated paint or paint that is disturbed during remodeling work. Lead particles are so tiny that they pass through most masks and filters. Thus, a special type of procedure is needed during remodeling work on homes that may have lead paint in them.

Here are some tips:

1) Make sure your contractor is EPA (Environmental Protections Agency) lead-paint certified.
2) Talk to your contractor about his experience with remodeling toxins and his suggestions for avoiding exposure.
3) Consider calling in an air quality expert and getting your home checked.
4) Read up on remodeling and toxins. The EPA website covers a wide range of subjects and is easy to read:
5) There can be no outward symptoms or signs of toxic exposure for a very long time. Cancer takes 20 to 60 years to develop in the human body. On the other hand, young children exposed to lead paint can exhibit developmental and learning disabilities within a short period.

Remodeling is making your home more beautiful, functional, enjoyable and valuable. Proceeding with your project knowledgeably, with all the information you need, is the best way to avoid problems during the process, or after the work is completed.

Finally, a reader sent me this link which might save you some serious problems with toxic exposure to asbestos:

Our company, Modern Family Kitchens, offers an IKEA kitchen design service. We can provide this service locally, or remotely. We think you'll spend the least and get the best results when you invest in expert design. Call or write us to discuss your project. 877-550-1753.

Kitchen Remodeling and Toxic Exposure #2: Asbestos

...and visit our website to find out about expert IKEA Kitchen Design Services

We have a guest blogger to provide information on another common remodeling toxin, asbestos.

Asbestos in the Home: Hazards and Prevention
by Brian Turner

Asbestos is a group of six natural minerals. The fibrous substance was once called a “miracle mineral” for its many desirable properties: strength, flexibility, fire resistance and heat insulation. Since the late 1800s, American industries have used asbestos for numerous manufacturing applications. Insulation, vehicle components and building materials are the most notable asbestos products.

The public has grown more aware of asbestos dangers in recent years, as more people struggle with the uncommon but deadly cancer known as mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure causes other problems too: pleurisy, asbestosis, lung cancer and other respiratory diseases.

Military veterans
are a high risk group for developing asbestos-related illness. Factory and construction workers, demolition crews and auto mechanics are also more at risk. Homeowners and residential contractors can also develop problems if they become exposed to asbestos. People who live and work in older homes are the most susceptible.

Asbestos Hazards in the Home

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports ten potential asbestos hazards that may be found in older homes. Houses built after 1923 may have used attic and wall insulation made from vermiculite ore. Mined in Libby, Montana, vermiculate was contaminated with asbestos, which occurred naturally in the mines.

Houses constructed between 1930 and 1950 likely used asbestos insulation. Some siding and roofing shingles also contained the substance. Textured paints and joint compounds used asbestos until the federal government banned its use in 1977.

In some homes, asbestos can be found in sheet vinyl, vinyl tiles and adhesives. Walls and floors around wood-burning stoves were often protected with asbestos paper, millboard or cement. Asbestos material coated or covered hot water and steam pipes, and it served as insulation for furnaces and door gaskets.

Older appliances such as stoves and ovens may contain asbestos compounds. The material was also used for the artificial ashes and embers used in gas fireplaces.

Preventing Asbestos Exposure at Home

Homeowners may discover asbestos materials when they undertake a project to renovate, remodel or refurbish their home. The EPA encourages them not to panic. If the material is in good condition, it is best to leave asbestos alone. Generally, it will not release harmful fibers into the air or cause serious health risks.

However, if homeowners discover deterioration, tears, abrasions or water damage, they should contact a health, environmental or asbestos official to learn about proper handling and disposal. Disturbed asbestos is the kind that poses health dangers, and any removal should be done by a qualified professional.

Unless a construction material is labeled, it is impossible to know whether it contains asbestos without a professional analysis. Only professionals should take samples, since they know what to look for and are trained to eliminate the health risks.

Asbestos repair and removal should only occur with damaged or disturbed asbestos products. Repair involves encapsulation or sealing to treat the material, and enclosure or covering to prevent the release of asbestos particles. Repair is less expensive than removal, but it may make removal more difficult if required at a later date.

Homeowners should use extra care when handling asbestos to prevent damage to themselves and others. Asbestos materials are best handled by certified professionals that are licensed by the federal government. To guard against misleading claims by asbestos contractors, homeowners must educate themselves about services, procedures and precautions.

Brian Turner has been working with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance as an environmental health and toxic substance safety advocate since June of 2007. Brian brings a tremendous amount of research and awareness experience in environmental health risks, environmental carcinogens, and green building expertise. Contact Brian: or

Finally, a Reader sent me this link, which you might find very valuable in avoiding toxic exposure to asbestos:


Our company, Modern Family Kitchens, offers an IKEA kitchen design service. We can provide this service locally, or remotely. We think you'll spend the least and get the best results when you invest in expert design. Call or write us to discuss your project. 877-550-1753.