Aiming for Better Air Quality on Remodeling Jobsites

Brindley Byrd, a member of the Remodelors Council Board of Trustees, and a longtime participant in the association’s Lead-Based Paint Task Force, has made himself an expert at controlling dust and reducing health risks on jobsites. He does so because he knows the risks are all too real.

In 1999, Byrd took state-funded courses to become an EPA-certified lead risk assessor as a way to complete the historic restoration of two homes that were being redeveloped with Community Development Block Grant funds. Part of the restoration included a full lead-abatement procedure. A primary takeaway for Byrd, was that, on a personal level after 20 years of remodeling, he had been exposed to a lot of airborne hazards. These were related not only to demolition dust, but also to sawdust created by cutting everything from fiber cement to marble.

“I can go into a client’s basement and I start wheezing because of the mold that is down there,” says Byrd, who has traced his increasing bout with allergies to the long-term exposure to airborne hazards. “I will not cut particle board because the glue that is in there causes me to have a terrible allergic reaction. And when you start talking to people about these issues, they’ll say, ‘You are right, I do sneeze a lot when I cut cultured marble.’ ”

Today Byrd spends an increasing amount of his time consulting remodelers and other members of the construction industry on work practices that help minimize airborne hazards. “I realized that we, as an industry, need to do a better job understanding what we are exposing our people to.”

“Back in the day when I was a kid tearing out walls in houses built in 1924 with nothing but a bandana around my face, I knew that was a bad thing.” says Byrd of his earliest days on remodeling projects. “I did all of the things that you are not supposed to do like burn paint with an open torch, the dry sanding and all of the stuff that we now know is really bad.”

Of the remodeling projects that Byrd is currently working on, the cleaning is continuous. Where these is dust, members of Byrd’s crews, are using shop vacuums equipped with HEPA-filter cartridges that are capable of trapping super-tiny particulates that are found in the dust. Byrd also notes the effort to keep jobsites dust-free has not gone unnoticed by customers. “We keep hearing positive reviews,” he says.

In addition to his work as a remodeler and a consultant, Byrd has been very active in his local, state and national Remodelors Council. In 1999, he chaired his local council and from there graduated to president of his local home builders association in 2003. It was then that he began serving on the national council with particularly active involvement in the council’s efforts to remedy some of the more onerous sections of the EPA’s proposed rule about Renovation, Repair and Remodeling. He even maintains a blog on the subject. Go to www.remodelingdust.blogspot.com.

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