There are several materials that were used in homes historically that are now known to be hazardous.
Lead-based paint is poisonous when ingested or when lead dust is inhaled. The production of lead paint was discontinued in the 1970s, but prior to that was widely used. If the paint is in good shape, lead contamination is usually not a problem. Encapsulating lead paint with a modern paint or coating will lessen the danger of exposure.
Deteriorating lead-based paint (i.e. peeling, chipping, chalking, or cracking paint) is a hazard and needs immediate attention. When renovating or conducting repair work in older homes, poisonous lead dust can be generated. Caution and protective equipment and practices are necessary to avoid permanent health damage.
Asbestos can be found in older insulation, vinyl floor tiles, textured paint, patching compounds, siding tiles, and roofing tiles. When it is disturbed or the material is broken, harmful asbestos fibers are released and can cause permanent health problems for those who inhale them.
Mold and mildew are a common occurrence in flood damaged buildings. They may already be present in a home and can be disturbed during renovations. While mold may not cause immediate health problems, long term exposure or the exposure of vulnerable persons (e.g. the elderly or those with existing respiratory problems) can lead to serious health effects.
Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) are also a hazard. CFLs contain a small amount of mercury that is released as a poisonous vapor when they are broken. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends removing people and pets from the room and opening a windows and doors to air out the room before cleaning up broken CFLs.
Table of Contents