Portland flooring is charming when it looks rustic or old. However, when it comes to aged hardwood floors, Portland residents should be aware that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has increased the scope of its lead paint enforcement because researchers have found the substance in old wood flooring and its varnishes. While an old wood floor has a unique personality, there are several benefits to replacing it with a new material.
Reasons to replace your old wood floors:
Reduce the risk of lead poisoning. Historians speculate that lead poisoning was partly responsible for the fall of the ancient Roman Empire, so imagine what it can do in a home. Lead is particularly dangerous for children because they often don’t wash their hands before putting them into their mouths. Lead poisoning can lead to high blood pressure, anemia, kidney damage, impotence and infertility.
Get away from asbestos. Portland flooring made of old wood may contain asbestos particles from old building materials that were once used. Asbestos fibers become dangerous if they are airborne and inhaled over a period, and symptoms may not be apparent for 15-40 years. Diseases from asbestos include mesothelioma, lung cancer and scarring of the lung tissue.
Reduce your exposure to wood dust. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states that simple wood dust is a possible carcinogen. Sanding old wood to refinish it produces a lot of dust, which could pose more of a danger than the possible levels of lead.
If your flooring is made of old wood, you can have it tested for lead by the state’s health department for a fee. The fee is worth the peace of mind you gain from knowing you can breathe easier with your current floor.