Replace the Drywall? ...Why?

by Dan Derkum


Lead Exposure

The Toxic Substances Control Act (April 22, 2008) mandates that any firm working in pre-1978 homes and child occupied facilities must be EPA certified and use lead safe work practices during renovations. Violation of these rules can result in fines of $37,500 per day. 

Effective April 22, 2010, for dwellings constructed prior to 1979 (1978 and older), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires renovators to inform the owner-occupant that the dwelling may contain unhealthful levels of lead in paint or surface coatings. When (a) interior work disturbs 6 square feet or more of painted or surface coatings in any room (b) exterior work disturbs 20 square feet or more of painted or surface coatings, unhealthful levels of lead in paint or surface coatings may be present. This also applies to window and door replacement.

Federal standards define unhealthful lead-based paint or surface coatings as: 

“Any paint or surface coatings that contain lead equal to or in excess of 1.0 milligram per square centimeter or more than 0.5 percent by weight” 

Children under six are most at risk from small amounts of lead. Among adults, pregnant women are especially at risk from exposure to lead. In children, lead can cause nervous system and kidney damage, decreased intelligence, attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities; speech, language, and behavior problems. In pregnant women, lead is passed from the mother to the fetus and can cause miscarriages, premature births, brain damage, and low birth weight. 

Special EPA mandated procedures were developed by the Federal Government to safely and properly remove painted or surface coatings containing lead. 

Asbestos Exposure

Homes and buildings built prior to 1980 utilized materials containing asbestos, a hazardous health material. Homes and buildings built prior to 1980 will likely have asbestos present in, but not limited to, all forms and types of: air conditioning and heating systems & duct work, ventilation duct, insulation, drywall, drywall taping and its compounds, lath and plaster, acoustical ceilings, electrical wiring and lighting, carpet, vinyl, synthetic floor coverings, floor covering adhesives, windows, paint, wallpaper and its adhesives, tile, ceramics, grout, plumbing, roofing, cement, stucco, brick, welding, and millboard. 

Mold Exposure and Sickness

Mold is an extremely toxic substance caused by trapped moisture in walls and floors. As mold spreads, it gives off spores, which can enter the body and make you sick. Mold sickness is extremely serious and should be treated by a doctor. The early symptoms often look like other sicknesses, so it is important to know what to look for to treat mold sickness correctly. If you have an immune system deficiency, mold sickness will come on faster and harder than it would otherwise.

Short-term and beginning stages of mold sickness can look like a basic cold or allergy attack. This is because mold acts as an irritant in small doses. If you repeatedly receive any of these symptoms after entering a building, that building may have a mold problem. Early symptoms include sneezing, itchy skin, headache, watery and itching eyes and skin irritation. 

If you are in an area that has been contaminated by mold for a long period of time, the following conditions may develop. If you begin to get these symptoms, see your doctor immediately, as they may indicate prolonged exposure to mold. Symptoms of the later stages of mold sickness include constant headaches, weight and hair loss, diarrhea, vomiting, constant fatigue, coughing up blood, chronic bronchitis and sinus infections, sexual dysfunction, short-term memory loss, skin rashes and sores.




About the Author
Dan A. Derkum is the owner of DAD's Construction, a leading South Orange County, California design-and-build remodeling and renovation contractor.