Our homes should always be a safe haven, away from the stresses of the world. A place where we can relax and enjoy time with our family and loved ones. Many people don’t give much thought as to what could be lurking behind the walls or under the floors. There are certain substances that could be lurking around your older plumbing that could be a health concern. Most of which, if left undisturbed pose no immediate threat. However, during a problem repair job or home renovation project it is important to be aware of the potentials risks associated with older plumbing and plumbing hazards.
Older plumbing is more prone to be around harmful substances because building laws have changed over the decades. What once was deemed safe and readily used, may not be considered safe any longer. As research and development continues, we learn new things everyday about common materials and substances we use everyday.
There are several common hazards of plumbing you need to be aware of. Some of which you have probably heard of. Here are some common hazards of plumbing.
Lead was a common substance used in plumbing for many centuries. It was cheap, rust-resistant, and easy to weld. It wasn’t until scientific advances in the 20th century that led to the discovery of the toxic properties of the material. Even after regulations were passed to eliminate the use of lead in plumbing, it still exists in my plumbing systems today. It could be in the solder used on copper pipes, and in a building's pipes that connect to the main sewer. In addition, prior to 1978, lead was a common substance in paint. Old paint chips and peeling paint pose a threat of contamination. Children under the age of 6 are most susceptible to lead poisoning. Lead is a heavy metal and a strong poison. If it builds up inside the body it can cause all kinds of problems from nausea, high blood pressure, joint pain, memory loss, declined mental function, sleep disorders, mood disorders, and fertility issues.
Asbestos is another plumbing hazard that affects older plumbing. It was a common building material for most of the 20th century. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the EPA and OSHA started regulations eliminating its use and created guidelines for its remediation. Asbestos was used in flooring, walls, insulation, plumbing, and roofing materials. It has great fire-resistant properties and is also inexpensive to use. Asbestos is dangerous when it becomes airborne. Prolonged exposure to asbestos causes serious respiratory issues as its small fibrous particles cause damage to the lining of the lungs leading to asbestosis and mesothelioma. Plumbers are susceptible to asbestos exposure because it could be in older pipes or in the insulation surrounding the pipes. It could even be in the walls and floors they have to tear open to get to the plumbing. Asbestos only becomes dangerous once it is disturbed, if left intact it poses no immediate threat.
Mercury is another dangerous substance that plumbers can come in contact with while on the job. This plumbing hazard is mostly applicable to commercial plumbing, however, it is a risk nonetheless. In dental or medical offices or scientific research buildings, mercury may be dumped down the drain. Once it enters the drain it can contaminate the plumbing pipes. The residue left behind over the years can buildup, and when it is exposed through repairs or renovations it can be dangerous. Mercury poisoning can cause damage to the nervous system, immune system, digestive system, lungs, kidneys, skin, and eyes. Extreme caution should be exercised when dealing with mercury-contaminated plumbing pipes.
Mold occurs naturally, and in fact, surrounds us every day. There are different types of mold, and most mold for the most part is harmless. However, there are also toxic molds like black mold that can do a world of harm. Mold thrives in warm, wet conditions, making a plumbing system a natural paradise for mold. If black mold starts to develop, this poses a serious problem. Not only is it destructive to the building, but it can also make you very sick. It can cause respiratory issues like chronic coughing and sneezing, runny nose, irritated eyes, extreme fatigue, and headaches. In severe cases, it can also cause memory loss, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and trouble concentrating. Those with asthma, allergies, and weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible to black mold. If black mold is detected, it is important to take action quickly. Proper mold remediation should be done by a professional to ensure the job is done correctly and to prevent further contamination.
Plumbing hazards are a serious matter, which is why having a professional plumber who is properly trained to handle these dangerous substances is a must. When it comes to plumbing repair or renovation projects, safety should be the number one concern. In addition, a professional plumber will be licensed, bonded, and insured, which can give you peace of mind. For more information on plumbing hazards and how to protect yourself and your loved ones contact Rooter Hero today!
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