Asbestos in The Wall

Are you thinking about fixing up your fixer-upper? You are in good company, according to HGTV-Canada.

Recent statistics indicate that more than half of all Canadian homeowners made major or minor repairs to their homes in just the last year.

With repair costs ranging from the hundreds to the tens of thousands, clearly it is an investment to upgrade your space.

But these are just the costs you know to calculate. There are other, less visible costs that can add up over time and turn your much-anticipated home renovation into a health nightmare.

Yes, we are talking about toxic indoor air.

The problem of indoor air toxicity during home renovations is so prevalent that whole task forces have been assembled to study and combat the problem.

In this blog post, we have assembled a shortlist of industry best practices so you and your family can stay safe during and after your home renovations.

Close Encounters With Home Renovation Contaminants

The first step to avoiding close encounters with common home renovation contaminants is knowing what to avoid.

The Canadian Committee on Indoor Air Quality and Buildings has taken care of this step for us by assembling a helpful guide of the most common renovation-related indoor air contaminants.

  • Asbestos (this is particularly relevant since nearly two-thirds of Canadian homeowners report living in “older homes,” in other words, those built between 1950 and 1999
  • Vermiculite (common ingredient in older insulation)
  • Lead
  • Mould and mildew
  • Mercury
  • Formaldehyde
  • Refrigerant
  • Radon, sewer gas and other gases
  • PCBs
  • Dust and particulates
  • VOCs
  • Combustion by-products (carbon monoxide, etc.)
  • Hydrocarbons

This is a pretty lengthy list. Is there anything that can tackle every single toxin?

The answer to this is yes… and no.

There is no single appliance or solution that can handle every single toxin that might get uncovered during a home renovation. But there is a set of solutions that can ensure minimal exposure from start to long after your renovation is finished.

Follow these tips to stay safe and healthy throughout your renovation.

Step 1: Identify Potential Hazards in Advance

Step one involves going back into the archives (mental or otherwise) to identify which major toxins you are likely to encounter during renovations.

You can think of this as doing risk management for home repairs.

You may or may not ever actually deal with the risk, but at least you are taking steps to be prepared if you do.

Here are two toxins that you may encounter during renovations and that require special safety precautions.


Canada banned the use of lead paint in 1960. But remember when we said nearly two-thirds of Canadian homeowners report living in older homes with build dates as far back as 1955?

When renovating an older home, you are likely to encounter lead paint at some point mid-project.


Asbestos was not banned in Canada until 1999. This tells us that the full two-thirds of Canadians still living in older homes will likely encounter it in some form or fashion during a remodel or major repair.

Asbestos has properties that can make materials stronger, fire-retardant and longer-lasting. It was commonly used to make insulation, tiles, siding, cement and plaster, among other things.

Any reputable contractor can help ensure that appropriate protections are in place for these and the other toxins mentioned in the introduction here.

3 Categories of Home Renovation Toxins to Avoid

In this list of common home renovation toxins mentioned here earlier, you probably noticed there are a few common categories. These are particulate (solid), gaseous and liquid.

Splitting the toxins into these major categories can make the job of protecting yourself during and after your renovation much more manageable.

Particulate (solid) toxins

Particulate or solid toxins may be tiny, even microscopic, but they are still considered solids. The best way to guard against inhaling solids is filtration.

The best filtration to tackle even microscopic airborne solids is the high-efficiency particulate air filter, or HEPA filter.

Modern HEPA filters trap and remove even the tiniest micro-particulates (as small as 1/100th the width of a single human hair) from the air.

Lead, asbestos, vermiculite, mould, mildew, dust and other micro-solids can be efficiently removed from your indoor air with a HEPA filter.

Gaseous and liquid toxins

For the purposes of indoor air cleanup, gaseous and liquid toxins are grouped together in a single category.

These toxins do not respond well to filtration – it is hard to trap a drop of liquid or a gas bubble!

What does neutralize both very effectively is purification. The most powerful air purifier in the whole world is our own sun. The ultraviolet radiation emanating from the sun is the inspiration behind the modern ultraviolet air purifier.

Today’s ultraviolet air purification systems use the most powerful band of ultraviolet light: band C. UV-C changes the molecular composition of liquid and gaseous toxins so they cannot do any harm.

Two More Home Renovation Air Quality Essentials

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends scheduling an indoor air duct cleaning following major home repairs or renovations.

This cleans out trapped toxins so they will not reinfect your indoor space before you move back in.

We always recommend installing a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) post-renovation.

The heat recovery ventilator not only provides continuous fresh air with continuous removal of stale, toxic air, but it also keeps the humidity balanced inside your home.

Best of all, the HRV recycles heat energy to reduce your home heating bills.

Get in Touch

Right now and through the end of February, save 10 percent off the cost of any of our three popular professional indoor air duct cleaning services.

Contact us online or give us a call at 905-544-2470.

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