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Refinishing Your Floors Can Make You Sick

December 18, 2017

Most people never think twice about health implications to refinishing their hard floors.  If you are thinking of refinishing your floor, I urge you to consider the health complications because if applied incorrectly your floor finish can make you and your family sick. The noxious odors and chemicals will not go away in a few days and sometime not in a few months.  What we have found is that even under the best of circumstances floor refinishing will likely double the chemical levels in your home.  I recommend to my clients not to finish the floors if they have kids as their lungs are still developing. To me it’s not worth the risk.

Key Points:

  • Do not live in the home during refinishing.
  • The sanding will cause harmful lung damaging particulate matter to stay in the air for days.
  • Children, pregnant women and the elderly will be most impacted by floor finishing.

Implement These 5 Control Measures If You Are refinishing Your Floor

  1. Ensure your contractor knows in writing that you are concerned about the amount of dust and toxic finish that is placed in your home. Seek out companies that use dust control measures and low VOC methods for finishing.
  2. Protect your HVAC system and air ducts. After completing the floor finish schedule air duct and system cleaning to remove the settled debris.
  3. Ask your contractor to use commercial grade air scrubbers, thick plastic zipper style containment, and negative air machines to prevent excess dust from entering other areas in the home. Be sure the weather outside will permit opening the windows i.e., not freezing or blistering hot.
  4. Test the home prior to reoccupying for ultrafine particulates and assess chemical levels.
  5. Plan on purchasing a high-end carbon-based air purifiers for the home. We recommend the Austin Air and IQair brand purifiers.

Adverse Health Symptoms When Exposed to Toxic Floor Finish

Avoid living in your home if you or family members experience headaches, brain fog, lethargy, wheezing, eye, nose or throat irritation until proper diagnosing of the air quality regarding potentially toxic chemicals and lung damaging particulates.

Suffering From Brain Fog

Types of Floor Finishes

Conventional floor sealers, finishes and stains are a source of indoor pollution. This is because they contain high levels of volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde, toluene and various other solvents. These VOCs are often termed as greenhouse gases and toxic to your health.  They make one susceptible to a range of health disorders which also includes headaches, flu-like symptoms which can even trigger asthma and other respiratory ailments. Always keep in mind that these VOCs are carcinogenic, and their impact may even be long-lasting for some individuals.

  • Polyurethane finishes- these water-based or oil-based finishes are extremely common. Oil-based ones are more likely to contain VOCs.
  • Water-based urethanes- they have low-odor, dry clear and quickly. Even a second or a third coat may be applied on the same day, if necessary. They although don’t add much to the color of the floor but may enhance the appearance of the floor.
  • Oil-based polyurethanes- they dry harder and enhance the natural color of the floor and require comparatively fewer applications. Because of the fact that these contain VOCs, they release a very strong odor. It makes it hard to stay in the house when such sealers and finishes are applied.

Toxic Dust In Your Home

Air Quality Testing

Schedule air quality testing before you refinish to establish a baseline and before your return to your home after refinishing to ensure it is healthy and free from elevated contaminants. IndoorDoctor instantly measures the total chemicals in your home, amount of lung damaging particulates and makes recommendations to improve the healthiness of your home.

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