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The hidden hazards when you’re doing it yourself

DIY seems natural once you own your own home. We’ve been painting our own bedrooms, drilling our own holes, and building our own furniture for hundreds of years, and while many a joke has been told about DIY going wrong, it turns out that it happens more often that you might think.

The hazards are also likely to be less obvious- instead of the inevitable trips and falls, consider damage to your lungs or a higher risk of cancer.

A YouGov study commissioned by Slater and Gordon Personal Injury lawyers found that 46% of Brits aren’t at all concerned with any of the risks known to be involved with doing it yourself.

The UK has always been a nation that’s keen on DIY, and the trend continues to rise, with spending on DIY increasing a huge 13% last year, for an average of £5.8 billion, which works out to be around £210 for each household according to Lloyds Bank.

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The same study also found that approximately 23% of people are planning a project this year, and while DIY continues to grow in popularity, very few people are aware of the potential risks if it goes wrong.

A quarter of the people surveyed admitted that they would be willing to cut MDF, with only 4% acknowledging that this could be a serious risk to their health. The bonding agent used in MDF is urea-formaldehyde, which both the UK and the European Union class as a carcinogen.

The survey also found that 52% of respondents live in a house that’s at least 50 years old, and yet only 6% have had an asbestos survey completed. While this toxic substance has now been banned, it was widely used in building up until the 1980s, especially in floor tiles, pipework, Artex ceilings, and garage roofs.

It turns out that drilling is another big problem, and 45% of people would happily drill into their walls, while only 5% would classify this as a risky activity. 22% of people also said that they would repair an old garage, with only 4% recognising the potential risk.

Asbestos exposure has been linked to a type of cancer called mesothelioma, but 61% of the people taking this survey had never heard of this disease. This rare cancer is more common in males than females, and asbestos is the only known cause, with 9 out of 10 men with mesothelioma coming into contact with asbestos.

For most people, being exposed to asbestos isn’t something that will happen regularly, so the majority of those who have come into contact once or twice will usually be ok. However people who are regularly carrying out DIY are at the greatest risk of exposure, and yet 59% of these people have no idea what mesothelioma is.

Many people are attracted to the lower costs associated with DIY, however that shouldn’t take precedence over your health. If you’re planning to DIY this year, be sure to educate yourself and take all necessary precautions.