After buying your first home, the dream of owning a home is replaced by the dream of renovating it. However, especially in older homes, there is always the risk that lying beneath the surface of your wall, floors, and ceilings are hazardous building materials. Today we’ll look at the big four: asbestos, lead, PCBs, and mercury, focusing on where you can commonly find them and what to do.
Out of the four, asbestos is probably the most feared, and with good reason. Not only is it common as a heat- and fire-resistant insulator in buildings made all the way up into the eighties, but due to the many shapes and sizes it comes in, can be hard to track down. Asbestos can be found commonly in insulation, vinyl tiling, and pipe wrappings. If your building was made before 1978, you need to have your building inspected before work can begin. If asbestos is discovered, you’ll need to hire an asbestos abatement contractor to deal with it.
Lead-based paints, varnishes, window putty, and other coatings are common for older homes as well. The main issue for these is the creation of lead dust if the surfaces are disturbed by removal, cutting, or sanding. If your building was made before 1978, you need to have your building inspected before work can begin, and your contractors should have the licenses and training for removal. Check with them to make sure they have Lead RRP certification.
PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls)
A little-known fluid, polychlorinated biphenyls – also known as PCBs – are a mixture of chemicals that are known for being chemically stable, having high boiling points, and good insulating properties. They are found in many materials, from hydraulic fluid to plasticizers. PCB was banned for use in plasticizers, adhesives, paints, and waterproofing in 1973 and PCB is treated as a hazardous waste. Talk to your contractor about their disposal methods.
Mercury is another one that is well known for its health effect, but not always where it can be found. Much like lead, it can be found in batteries such as emergency lighting systems or smoke detectors, but also in lighting, heating, and HVAC systems for thermostats and switches. Mercury is an EPA regulated hazardous waste, so it’s important to report and properly dispose of this waste. Talk to your contractor about their disposal methods.
If you’re worried about asbestos or lead in your home, or your contractor has discovered the presence of these hazardous building materials, we can help. Fiber Control, Inc. are experts in asbestos abatement and lead remediation. Contact us today to learn about your options when it comes to removing these materials.