Environmental Hazards


It seems that we hear a lot about environmental concerns these days. Much of it is simply the result of a greater awareness than in the past. And even though there isn't anything to be concerned with in most homes, there are still a number of potential home environmental issues that buyers should be aware of.

Water quality is probably the most common concern and the one most often tested for. Typically, a basic water quality test will check pH, water hardness, the presence of fluoride, sodium, iron and manganese, plus bacteria such as E-coli. Additionally, water may be tested for the presence of lead or arsenic.

In homes built before 1978, lead based paint may be present. Generally, if the lead based paint is in good condition, not cracking or peeling, it is not a hazard. If the condition is hazardous, the paint will either need to be removed or sealed in such a manner as to eliminate the hazard.

Another common environmental concern with the home is radon. Radon is a radioactive gas that comes from the natural decay of uranium in the soil. Pretty much all homes have some radon present, tests can determine if the level present is higher than what is considered safe. If the level is too high, a radon reduction system will need to be installed.

In older homes built more than 30 years ago, asbestos was used in many types of insulation and other building materials. If the asbestos is releasing fibers into the air, it needs to be removed or repaired by a professional contractor specializing in asbestos cleanup. But, if the asbestos material is in good repair, and not releasing fibers, it poses no hazard and can be left alone.

One of the more recent environmental hazards that has been heavily in the media is mold.  Everyone is exposed to some mold on a daily basis without evident harm. There are usually mold spores in the air inside homes. Most indoor mold spores come from outdoors by blowing through open windows or being tracked into homes as dust on shoes. Mold spores primarily cause health problems when they are present in large numbers and people inhale many of them. This can occur when there is active mold growth in a home, office, or school where people live or work. People can also be exposed to mold by touching moldy materials and by eating contaminated foods. Molds will grow and multiply whenever conditions are right, that is when sufficient moisture is available and organic material is present.

The most important factor allowing mold to grow is dampness or moisture accumulation in the home.  Therefore, mold problems can be avoided by remaining alert  to and timely repairing plumbing leaks, abating water intrusion into habitable areas, and by properly ventilating bathrooms after use of the shower or tub. 

Please refer to Environmental Hazards.pdf for more information.