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The Weather Network
Jun. 15, 2019 | Saturday
Editorials and Opinions
Architext: Safe not Sorry
Proceed with caution. (Supplied)

Driving home from Queenston last week, I passed a gentleman spraying an orchard while a following wind blew clouds of fungicide around him.

The sight made me think about a restoration/renovation project that I recently consulted on. The house is typical of many old homes scattered across Niagara; a small settler’s dwelling which had major additions in both 1870 and 1950, and multiple renovations/remodels over its lifetime.

The current owner wished to renew the home with an eye to preserving the remaining original features while respecting the heritage of the house in the design/renovation process.

On one of my early visits, I found the owner and most of her volunteers busy doing ‘demo’ on the second floor. They had pulled up late 20th century carpeting and were about to start removing the 1940s tile which had been found below it. At the same time, others were busily picking away at removing the multiple coats of paint that covered the late 19th century embossed tin ceiling and crown molding in the dining room. Much to the dismay of the owner, I immediately called a halt to all their efforts because they were all running an unacceptable health risk.

Fact is we (and/or our antecedents) blithely used products which are “silent killers”. In Canada, all paint prior to 1960 contained lead; exterior paint to 1990 probably has lead, and interior paint prior to 1990 may contain lead. While asbestos was a component in a plethora of building materials that included pipe wrap, heating duct wrap, plasterboard (drywall), insulation, ceiling tiles, adhesives and floor tile. Provided it’s not disturbed, no problem, but during a reno all bets are off.

Be safe… Tests for lead and asbestos are a cheap way to ensure the “sins of the father are not laid upon the children!”