Kitchen Remodeling and Toxic Exposure #1

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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.