Common Environmental Health Hazards in Real Estate
There are a variety of health hazards that can be found within a home. While these are less common hazards in current times and with newer homes, they are still a possibility. Older properties were often built using hazardous materials such as the ones that will be discussed in this article. You also might be more or less likely to come across these materials based on where you live or how the construction process was carried out.
You’ve likely heard of this one before, but in case you haven’t, what is asbestos? Asbestos is a mineral and it was most commonly used in construction and other materials used during construction such as insulation found throughout the home in places such as floor tiles and water heaters for insulation. It is also fireproof, so it was used to cover furnaces as well. Asbestos can cause a variety of health issues such as cancer, mesothelioma, and lung disease when it is breathed in. Properties that were constructed before 1978 could possibly contain traces of asbestos.
Lead was often used in paint to create different colors and it was also found in the materials used to build water pipes in homes built before 1978, which is dangerous. There could also be lead runoff from nearby landfills and waste incinerators that could pollute the water supply. Lead is extremely toxic, and its effect can increase over time. The signs of lead poisoning include constipation, anemia, and overall weakness to name a few. You could also experience high blood pressure as a result. Lead exposure to small children can affect their brain in a variety of ways and cause issues such as memory impairment, reduced intelligence, issues with hearing, and trouble balancing. There is an act called the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, and it requires both landlords and sellers to inform renters and buyers about potential or known health hazards in the agreement. Buyers must be given at least ten days to perform an inspection and must be provided with the Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home pamphlet. In order to test for lead in a dwelling, there can be a paint inspection to assess the presence of lead in the paint, and there can also be a risk assessment. A risk assessment will reveal very serious lead hazards such as dust containing lead and also provide important information about how the hazard can be remedied.
This is a very strong gas that is often used in building materials and can lead to respiratory issues and cause irritation to the eyes and skin. Formaldehyde can also lead to cancer in animals. It is also a cause of SBS (sick building syndrome), which results from bad air quality inside of a property. Symptoms include headaches, nausea, fatigue, and sensitivity to smells. This gas can be found in foam insulation used in homes constructed in the 1970s and in a resin that was used to make plywood and attach knobs or handles.
Radon is a gas in certain areas of the country that is found in the ground and also radioactive. It can rise up through the soil and make its way into a home through cracks in the foundation. Because of the fact that most homes are airtight to be more energy-efficient, radon gas could build up over time and end up spreading through your home. The build-up is much less of a possibility if the house has decent ventilation or other forms of airflow. The radioactivity of radon can lead to lung cancer; if you want to see if your home has this gas, you can invest in a home radon-detection kit.
This is a very harmful gas that has no smell or color. It can be caused by a flame that is not receiving an adequate amount of oxygen. Sources include furnaces of any kind; fireplaces as well. These things need to be well ventilated and checked often to ensure that there are no issues. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, nausea, and extreme tiredness. It is a very good idea to invest in a detector for your home.
Mold is a fungus. It grows in areas where there is an increased amount of moisture; on wood for example. If the area does not have proper ventilation, the moisture will build up and cause mold to grow. Mold can cause someone to have an allergic reaction and even an asthma attack. Mold can also destroy the surfaces it lives on. A seller who has mold in or around their property, knows about it, and fails to disclose it, could risk a lawsuit from the buyer. It is a good idea to be informed about potential hazards whether you are renting or buying. Being aware is the first step to ensuring your safety.