Mrs. B’s Anxiety . . . Another true story advocating safe renovations . . .

Mrs. B’s anxiety was running rampant… Another true story advocating SAFE RENOVATIONS!

The mid-1950s home was located in a quiet Western Maryland neighborhood.  Moving boxes were on the front porch.  A dumpster sat in the driveway full of old cabinets and shelving.  The sound of a saw and hammers resounded from within the home. I was greeted by a friendly face, but I could tell in her expression she was uneasy. We walked in her residence as she explained to me that she just bought the home and was planning on removing a wall and opening up the kitchen space.  She painted a picture of the renovated kitchen with a center island, stylish cabinets, and rustic colors.

Mrs. B explained that she had not been able to sleep after seeing a news report about potential hazardous building materials in older homes.  In looking around at the kitchen I shared the fact that she may be disturbing lead-based painted components and asbestos-containing floor tile and mastic currently in her kitchen.  Her face signaled dismay as she asked, “Why would you think these materials are hazardous?”

Quality paints produced prior to 1979 typically contained lead-based paint.  When knocking out the wall, the disturbance to the painted surfaces would release lead dust into the building.  I highly recommended that she have it tested prior to renovations.  If it is lead-based paint, then she would want to protect herself and the environment from the spread of lead dust.  An XRF Analyzer would indicate the concentration of lead in the paint to help her plan to remove the wall safely.  She asked me to take a reading of the paint.  The analyzer instantly have me a reading of 1.1 mg/cm sq. In Maryland anything at or above 0.7 mg/cm is considered lead-based paint and the proper precautions should be taken when removing.

Then she asked about the floor tile.   The only way to know for sure if the tile contained asbestos is to have it sent to a lab for analysis. We found that it contained 3% Chrysolite.

After a few simple tests, Mrs. B was now able to put a renovation plan in place that includes safe renovation practices that would protect her, her helpers, and her neighborhood.

If you would like more information on lead-based paint or asbestos-containing materials in homes and buildings, please email for free literature.

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