Redoing an entire home, or even a single room, can be a cathartic fresh start. Adding a fresh coat of paint can breathe new life into a space. Though what might be hiding under that paint, within those walls, should not be dismissed.

Homes are meant to be a safe haven, but they can also be hiding dirty secrets such as lead paint, radon, carbon monoxide and asbestos.

Homes built in the United States between 1930 and 1980 may have been constructed using asbestos-containing materials. Left undisturbed asbestos is relatively harmless, but once airborne the microscopic minerals may cause mesothelioma cancer.

Asbestos was often added to building materials due to its ability to resist heat, fire and chemical reactions. When remodeling and deconstructing, the asbestos-contaminated materials can become airborne, so before beginning any project it’s paramount to understand the risk.


Asbestos was commonly used in:

  • Insulation
  • Cement
  • Wallpaper       
  • Flooring
  • Ceiling Tiles
  • Boilers
  • Paint
  • Plaster
  • Putty
  • Electric Boards
  • Sheetrock
  • Roofing
  • Siding

While asbestos in paint and other construction materials is quite rare now-a-days, older homes can still harbor the toxin. Before any deconstruction or demolition begins, homes built prior to 1980 should be inspected to ensure that the area is free from the carcinogen.

If asbestos is found, even minuscule amounts, abatement professionals should be brought in to mitigate before renovations resume. The presence of asbestos is undetectable to the naked eye and there is no safe amount of exposure, so all possible precautions should be taken to safeguard the health of workers and homeowners.


Signs of Disease

Mesothelioma cancer is rare, and while many are familiar with the word, the more granular aspects of the disease often elude people. This year, September 26 is Mesothelioma Awareness Day and a perfect opportunity to educate yourself with lifesaving facts.

More than 2,000 Americans die from mesothelioma each year, and unfortunately there are an estimated 20 million citizens at risk of developing the cancer in their lives.

With a poor prognosis, early detection is critical to improving survival rate for patients. There are three forms of the cancer - in the lungs, heart or abdominal cavity. Symptoms of each form of mesothelioma are distinct and present differently, so communicating any asbestos exposure with your doctor can accelerate the diagnostic process.

Being transparent with your doctors about occupational risks that face members of the construction and painting industry can enable them to ask necessary questions, and ultimately arrive at an accurate diagnosis. For example, mesothelioma is often misdiagnosed as the flu or pneumonia because patients forget their past asbestos exposure.

It typically takes 20 to 50 years for mesothelioma symptoms to become noticeable, and after so much time has passed important details can be forgotten.

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the disease. Occurring in the lining of the lungs, it accounts for 70 to 80 percent of all diagnoses. Common symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, a dry cough and fluid buildup.

A cough can signal something as benign as a cold but could be a precursor to something much more serious. Keeping up with regular doctors’ visits can ensure that small issues don’t have the opportunity to snowball.


Staying Safe on the Jobsite

The old adage is that if you choose a job you love you won’t work a day in your life. That may be true of those working in the paint and home maintenance/repair industries.

Getting to help a homeowner’s dream home come to fruition is an important and exciting career, but no job is worth risking your health. Small, mindful steps can make a difference in ensuring that you have a long healthy life doing what you love.