Reading the title may have left you slightly perplexed; can home improvement kill me? A lick of paint in the spare room? Deadly? Surely not. Maybe not painting, but a number of other simple DIY tasks can prove harmful, and even fatal.
New research by specialist mesothelioma solicitors, Slater and Gordon, has revealed that almost half of Brits are ‘unconcerned’ that there are health risks involved with many DIY tasks. This is despite the fact that DIY is actually on the up – spending on DIY increased by 13% last year to £5.8bn. That equates to £210 per household.
The study reveals that almost a quarter of people (23 per cent) are planning a project in 2017. However, despite the growing popularity of doing-it-yourself, very few are aware of the risks involved.
A quarter (25 per cent) of those surveyed said that they would cut MDF, but only 4 per cent acknowledge that this poses a serious risk to their health. The urea-formaldehyde bonding agent that is used in MDF is classified as a carcinogen in the UK and European Union. Inhaling the saw dust from any wood, especially MDF is extremely harmful.
Of those surveyed, over half (52 per cent) live in a house that is 50 years old or more, but only 6 per cent have had an asbestos survey on their home. Exposure to asbestos has long been linked to cancer – namely mesothelioma. However, 61 per cent of respondents said they don’t know what mesothelioma is.
45 per cent of people would drill into walls in their house, but only 5 per cent think of this as an extremely risky activity. Walls and ceilings in old houses could potentially contain asbestos, and disturbing it could release the harmful substances.
When carrying out any home improvements, the correct PPE (personal protective equipment) should be worn. Dust masks and safety glasses are essential when working with wood.
This isn’t to say that you should shy away from DIY, just to be aware that there are some hidden risks involved.