Pre-Renovation Survey Readies Portland Building for Improvements

Renovations often bring exciting improvements to a facility. Careful planning ensures a favorable outcome. The planning phase is also the time when those involved must consider whether the upcoming renovations have the potential to cause health and safety issues for the building’s occupants.

The managers of a City of Portland property relied on G2 Consultants to perform a pre-renovation survey that would help ensure the safety of workers and other people occupying the building during and after upcoming renovations.

Why was a pre-renovation survey needed?

The renovation plans included demolition and painting, two activities that have the potential to lead to exposure to harmful substances. City authorities planned to renovate two rooms on the building’s second floor. The renovations required the following activities:

  • Removal of built-in fixtures (half walls, shelving, etc.)
  • Demolition of a wall
  • Prep and repainting of a floor

One of our skilled professionals was called on to perform an on-site pre-renovation survey to determine if asbestos or lead-based paint was present in any of the building materials that would be affected by the renovations.

Why is lead-based paint and asbestos testing important before renovations?

A pre-renovation survey to determine the presence of asbestos and lead-based paint in the building materials affected by the planned renovations was critical. Results would indicate what actions, if any, were necessary to ensure the safety and health of workers and other people who would enter the building during and after renovations.

Asbestos and lead-based paint can be extremely harmful when inhaled by humans. If one or both are present in building materials, they can be easily disturbed by construction activities. Disturbing materials that contain either of these substances presents an elevated risk that people may inadvertently inhale them.

What are the risks without a pre-renovation survey?

If disturbed and exposed, asbestos can release tiny fibers into the air. Contractors, employees, and any other people inside a structure are then at risk of inhaling those fibers into their lungs. Once inhaled, asbestos fibers remain inside the lungs where they can build up and cause serious healthy and breathing issues. Asbestos exposure can lead to debilitating, even fatal lung diseases including:

  • Pleural plaque and pleural effusion
  • Asbestosis
  • Lung cancer
  • Mesothelioma

Lead-based paint has the potential to chip off and/or disintegrate into lead dust if it is scraped, sanded or eroded. Renovation activities often present higher risks of paint erosion or chipping. Paint chips and dust are easily ingested by people, children, and pets. The EPA says that lead from paint, including lead-contaminated dust, is one of the most common causes of lead poisoning.

How did G2 Consultants help reduce those risks with a pre-renovation survey?

After building managers contacted us and explained the scope of their renovation plans, we went to work with a pre-renovation survey identifying potential asbestos-containing materials and painted areas to test for the presence of lead.

We collected seven bulk samples for asbestos testing. These included samples from the following areas:

  1. Cove bases and adhesives
  2. Drywall and joint compounds
  3. Tile grout
  4. Flooring core

We performed direct-read lead testing on materials from 24 areas throughout the two rooms being renovated including:

  1. Walls, baseboards, and floors
  2. Shelving and a countertop
  3. Window sill and trim

None of the seven samples tested were found to contain asbestos. Lead-based paint was not identified on the surfaces tested at equal to or above the concentration of 1.0 milligrams per square centimeter. Lead concentrations below 1.0 milligrams per square centimeter were identified on several ceramic wall tile samples. These could present the risks mentioned above if they were turned into lead dust by scraping, sanding, or other abrasion.

What did G2 recommend for safety?

We recommended that any components that tested positive for lead, and any similar untested components, be considered lead-laden and that lead-safe procedures be incorporated into the overall renovation plans. Lead-safe procedures include containing work areas to prevent dispersal of lead dust and paint chips, wet sanding and scraping, and collecting and properly disposing paint chips and debris.

Those who are considering or planning renovations to a facility should have an on-site pre-renovation survey completed. Detecting the presence of asbestos and lead-based paint before getting started helps ensure everyone involved remains safe from the risks of potential hazards.