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Protect Your Health During Neighborhood Demolition

by Harvie Simms

Demolition and rehabilitation of property can revitalize a neighborhood and raise property values.  It also temporarily releases dust and irritants into the environment.  If demolition work is taking place in your neighborhood, it is essential to take the proper precautions to protect the health of you and your family.  Follow the tips below to stay healthy during demolition. 

Take measures to prevent dust from entering your home.

Demolition creates clouds of dust, which extend and infiltrate far beyond the immediate demolition area.  People with dust allergies or asthma are susceptible to a worsening of symptoms from the additional dust.  Use the following tips to keep the dust from sneaking into your house.

  • Keep your doors and windows closed
  • Place rugs at every entrance and wipe off any dust or debris from your shoes right away.  Take your shoes off near the door before venturing any further into the house. 
  • Cover up your plants, trees, and bushes with heavy plastic tarps which you can remove after demolition is finished. 
  • Clean your floors and carpets every day to lessen the accumulation of dust. 
  • Wash the outside of your windows and window sills on a daily basis. 
  • Change the air filter in your home more frequently to accommodate the increased levels of dust.

Take precautions against lead dust

Before 1978, 75% of homes were built using lead based paint.  When homes containing lead paint are demolished, lead dust is created.  Lead dust is especially harmful to children and even small amounts can severely hamper their mental and physical development.  If you have received a notice that lead dust will be generated due to demolition near your home, it is wise to vacate the premises for the duration of the demolition especially if you have small kids.  

Lead dust can infiltrate into your home despite taking all kinds of precautions.  It's better not to expose anyone to the risk of breathing air contaminated with lead or accidentally ingesting lead.  If you haven't been notified about lead dust but the property to be demolished is an older home or business, contact your local housing department to find out more information about the demolition.

After demolition around your neighborhood has concluded, clean up your home before moving back in.  Clean the carpet with a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter.  A regular vacuum does not trap lead particles.  If you don't have a HEPA equipped vacuum, you can rent one from the hardware store.  Wet mop the floors with a household cleaner and change the air filter in your home.   If you are still worried about possible lead contamination, contact your local health department to schedule an inspection of your property.

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