Minimize Renovation Construction Health Risk (Job Site and Landscaping)

$ = cost effectiveness; HB = health benefit

Minimize Exposure to Vehicle Exhaust - HB

• During renovations, there are often multiple trucks near your home for weeks or even months. The exhaust from these trucks contains carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other substances that are unhealthy to breathe.

• Recommendation: Protect your family’s health by keeping exhaust from construction equipment away from your home as much as possible. Ask workers to shut down diesels rather than letting them idle. Although you should air out the interior of your home during renovations, close your windows temporarily while trucks and equipment are in use.

Don’t Let Workers Track Contaminants into the House - HB

• Even if you have been told that your workers use only the safest products for remodeling your home, workers are likely to have unhealthy toxins on their shoes from other job sites. Even in your own home, toxins can be found everywhere from lead in peeling paint to pesticides from soils around the foundation. Once in your home, these pollutants become trapped in carpets where they might remain and offgas for years (even after vacuuming), or result in unhealthy mold spores. Wiping your feet on a doormat reduces the amount of lead in a typical carpet by a factor of 6.’ ‘With a high-efficiency particulate arresting (HEPA) vacuum cleaner, the amount of lead and other toxic substances in your carpet can be reduced by a factor of 10 (or, in some cases, 100).’

• Recommendation: Have construction workers take off their shoes when they enter your home, or at least wipe their feet on a stiff-bristle doormat. Use an effective vacuum cleaner that comes equipped with a rotating brush and , preferably, a dust sensor and a high-efficiency particulate arresting (HEPA) filter.

Protect Your Home from Dust - HB

There is no avoiding the fact that renovations create lots of dust. Dust (mites) can cause hay fever or asthma. Dust can also cause children to become hyperactive, inattentive, and impulsive. Keeping your air free of dust will minimize the associated health risks. In addition, these precautions will keep your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system running smoothly, protect your furniture from dust, and save you hours of cleaning.

• Recommendations: Store removed HVAC equipment in a clean, dry place and cover with plastic. Seal all the registers in the rooms under construction. Use temporary filtration media on all furnace intakes to ensure clean combustion and safe operation. Try to seal off the area(s) being renovated from the rest of the house, or consider living away from home during the most intrusive construction. Better yet, what a great excuse to go on vacation!

Positively Pressurize the House - HB

• When there is negative pressure in a home, air from outside is being “sucked” in and air on the inside is unable to escape the house (see Building Science Basics). This is especially dangerous during construction, when indoor air is potentially laden with dust, toxic chemicals from synthetic construction materials, such as finishes and adhesives. Pressurization also helps keep radon from entering the house.

• Recommendation: To reduce the impact of construction and to protect your family from breathing harmful toxins, keep your windows in the unaffected space open as much as possible to introduce fresh air. If this is not an option, such as in winter, have your contractor negatively pressurize his or her work area by installing a fan that exhausts the air in the construction zone out of your living space.

Protect Materials from Moisture Exposure - $, HB

• There is a growing number of studies that link allergies, immuno-depression, and illness to the amount and type of mold or fungal growth in a home.’ By keeping building materials dry, you can prevent unhealthy and unsightly mold growth in your home, as well as saving the cost of removing mold in the future.

Recommendation: Mold needs moisture to grow therefore it essential to keep all building materials dry during renovations. Don’t have materials delivered too early to the site. If this is impossible, try to store materials in the garage or a covered area.

Taking a jewel box approach to architecture, where instead of making a huge building that is cheaply made and cheaply finished, make a small building that is well-crafted and has wonderful custom details.

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