Are you planning on renovating your home? Even small indoor renovations or repairs will severely degrade the air you and your family breathe to a very unhealthy level. The exponential release of tiny, microscopic particles from sanding, paints, ultrafine dusts, fiberglass, silicates, mold spores and a whole host of toxins that enter the air space will penetrate deep into your lungs. These particles are so small that they can bypass your lungs filtration system and enter into the blood stream. Furthermore, your home will likely be filled with toxic fumes called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the application of newly applied primers, lacquers, furniture and paints. Children, asthmatics, immunocompromised and the elderly are most vulnerable. Hopefully you and your family are able to relocate during renovations, but sometimes that is not feasible. If you suspect that there could be hidden issues like mold, asbestos or lead then it is best to have your project area properly inspected by a qualified independent professional and if needed hire a certified remediation company.
Here are ways to improve the air quality in your home during renovations.
Properly fix thick plastic barriers (at least 8mil) around all openings of the workspace to include doors. We recommend a double containment zipper system to prevent particulate release during exiting and entering the containment zone.
Rent a commercial grade air scrubber. Many remediation companies will set up the containment and rent these units for you. These are large capacity air purifiers where you can change the filter easily after it clogs with construction dust. Place one air scrubber inside the containment zone and one outside the containment zone. If this is not feasible then buy a few quality air purifiers realizing that you will need to regularly change the filters during the renovations. Leave the air scrubbers or purifiers running on at all times until the renovations are complete.
3) Negative Air:
Establish a means of creating negative air pressure. Often air scrubbers are equipped to vent outside enabling negative air pressure. Fans and ducted tubing exiting a window will create negative pressure to ensure the construction dust and toxins remain out of the clean space. This is most practical in a basement setting.
Run quality air purifiers in the bedrooms. You’ll be sleeping here for at least 5 hours so ensure the air space is clean by running quality air purifiers on a high setting throughout the renovation project.
5) HEPA Vacuum:
Conduct detailed HEPA vacuuming during and at the end of each day’s renovation efforts to minimize accumulated dust toxins that can become airborne with activity. Be sure to change the internal filter of your vacuum after the renovation project. Read more About The HEPA Vacuum and Why It Matters
6) VOC Free:
Use NO VOC and NO Odor paints. These paints will not off gas the amount of harmful toxins found in traditional paints. Read more About Just Say No to VOC Paint
7) Cover Air Vents:
Properly cover air supply and returns if using a forced air system. No need to bring all the pollution from the workspace to the rest of the home.
8) Open Windows:
Nothing beats fresh air to dilute polluted air.
If you can afford to take that trip to the Caribbean now might be the time until the dust settles. You can have your home air quality tested prior to coming home so you know it safe and healthy.
If hiring a contractor talk with them about your indoor air quality concerns. Make the implementation of the necessary control measures part of the work scope. Take photos of any breaches in the containment, suspend the work and immediately contact the general contractor to correct the deficiencies before proceeding. Your family’s health and the contractor’s paycheck depend on it!
These steps are also critical if you live in an apartment, duplex or condo where renovations are going on outside your home. Renovation activities in other units can directly impact your air quality. Speak up and voice your concerns. You have a right to breathe good air!