By Meghan Belnap
If you're planning a home remodel, doing the work yourself is a great way to save money. However, there are some jobs you should leave to the professionals. Handling hazardous materials without the proper training and equipment can result in injuries, illness or death. Here are four of the most dangerous materials you may encounter during a home remodel and why you should never handle them alone.
Many people think that lead-based paint is a thing of the past, but approximately 29 million housing units still contain lead paint hazards. While intact and well-kept lead paint is usually not a problem, the lead becomes dangerous when it crumbles into dust and is inhaled. It's important not to disturb lead paint in your home without professional lead remediation services on site.
Another material that is no longer used in construction but is often found in older homes is asbestos. This material was commonly used for fireproofing and soundproofing in older homes before it was found that inhaling its fibers causes a type of lung cancer called mesothelioma. If your home was built before 1980, have it inspected for asbestos before beginning any remodeling, construction or demolition projects.
Most commonly used as roof insulation in the attic, fiberglass is another material that should be left to professionals. The tiny fibers that make up fiberglass have sharp ends that can cause hundreds of microscopic cuts when they come in contact with the body. Although fiberglass insulation isn't as dangerous as lead or asbestos, this material can cause skin and respiratory irritation if not handled properly. Fiberglass should also be kept away from pets and children to prevent accidental ingestion.
From animal feces and deceased wildlife to mold and bacteria, natural hazards pose just as much of a danger as manmade materials. Biohazards can be especially dangerous if you're remediating a home that was abandoned by someone else. The specialist you need for the job varies by the hazard involved. Call pest control if you see vermin or bugs, or hire a mold remediation specialist if you notice signs of mold and mildew.
Does the cost of hazardous material removal exceed your budget? Your state or local government may be able to help. Many areas have remediation programs to help homeowners remove lead, asbestos, mold and other harmful substances from their homes. You may even be required by law to report certain hazards to your county health department.