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Renovation is one of the major causes of poor indoor air quality in homes, and is often conducted while the family is home. When planning and conducting renovations, remember the potential causes of indoor air problems during renovation and repairs. 


Tips for indoor air quality during renovations:


  1. Demolition that releases toxic materials, such as lead, asbestos, and mold.
  2. Construction dust and fumes.
  3. Designs that interfere with ventilation.
  4. Off-gassing from new materials.


During renovations, most source control techniques will provide the indoor air quality during renovations solution your family needs.


Take as many steps as possible while remodeling. You can easily generate high levels of pollutants during renovations.

Examples include:

  • coatings,
  • stains and varnishes,
  • resilient flooring,
  • caulks,
  • fuels,
  • cleaners,
  • wall coverings
  • sealants
  • adhesives
  • composite wood products,
  • Paints,
  • carpeting fabrics, and
  • draperies.

Ideally, you’ll do some of these tasks outside, but if not, you can still minimize or even prevent indoor air problems. Later, when appropriate, you can concentrate on improving your home’s overall indoor air quality

Techniques for protecting the family from renovation pollutants:


  • Testing: before demolition, inspect the area to be renovated. Look for possible asbestos and lead containing materials. Attempt to identify sources of dust and microbial contamination.


  • Substitution: Identify a material likely to impact the indoor air quality, and select a similar but less toxic substitute. For example, use latex instead of oil based paint, install hardwood over pressed wood, use water based over solvent based adhesives, buy low formaldehyde emitting fabrics, and install continuous filament carpet.


  • Timing: work when the family isn’t home.


  • Distance: Keep children and elderly as far from renovation activities as possible. The greater the distance between them and the pollutants, the less concentrated the pollutants will be.


  • Barriers: Install temporary barriers with plastic sheeting to seal the work areas from the occupied areas. Cover all supply and return air grilles, keep doors closed, and seal stairwells to prevent the spread of pollutants throughout the rest of the home.


  • Ventilation: A fan blowing out the window from the work area will help remove dust and other pollutants. This will also create a pressure barrier, which helps keep pollutants from spreading to other parts of the house. After applying paints or finishes, installing flooring, or other activities likely to “off-gas” pollutants, continue to provide maximum ventilation to the space. Allow a “flush out” period of ventilation prior to reoccupying the work area for at least 72 hours after renovation is complete.


  • Containment: When possible, keep pollutants confined to as small an area as reasonably possible, rather than allow them to spread to larger areas. Examples include wet sanding or vacuum sanding drywall to prevent the spread of dust, misting asbestos with water to prevent it from easily becoming airborne during demolition, and keeping containers of chemicals such as solvents, adhesives, paints, and other coatings closed as much as possible. Turn off your HVAC system while working with dust in the air.


  • Cleanup: Clean all debris, dust, and scraps daily. Consider using a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner to minimize recirculation of contaminants. Suppress dust with wet methods. Quickly clean up spilled materials. Protect porous materials such as insulation from exposure to moisture and contaminants.


Ways to improve your indoor air quality

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