Buying and selling a home has many inherent risks, but don't let unseen environmental hazards be one of them.
Dangers like radon, asbestos, mold and lead all have the potential to turn a dream house into a disaster, and each problem might be hard to spot. In some cases, the only way to know for sure before getting sick is to test - so use a quality property inspection to find out if a home has something wrong.
Over the years, more buyers are getting up to speed on potential environmental risks, according to the National Association of Realtors. At least 20 states had laws in place by 1992 to protect homeowners, and various legislation required sellers and brokers to make all property risks common knowledge.
That is the good news, but it doesn't mean buying a new home is a worry-free. There are several tools for a homeowner or buyer to stay vigilant, and a few good things to watch out for in order to keep a house as safe as possible.
Don't let asbestos hang around
A fibrous mineral, asbestos can both be found naturally as well as within numerous commercial applications. Therefore, it can frequently pop up in a home, and has been linked to lung cancer and other serious health conditions like asbestosis and mesothelioma, according to a joint report by the Connecticut Association of Realtors and the Connecticut Department of Public Health.
Since asbestos is common, there are a lot of places in the home to check. Many types of insulation contain it, including HVAC components, wall plaster and paper, and ceiling and floor tiles. While it does occur in several different areas, low levels aren't overly-dangerous, so there isn't a need to become paranoid.
If there is already a known source in a home, most states require it be included in a property disclosure report, and if a home was built more recently, odds are lower that large amounts of asbestos are present. Removal and disposal should be handled by trained professionals, according to the report.
Look for lead, especially with small children present
Many people are familiar with lead paint, but the poisonous metal can turn up in other sources within a home as well. Similar to asbestos, the older a home the more likely for concern. Small children can develop long-term physical and nervous system conditions from over-exposure to lead, so be particularly mindful if any live in the house, the report stated.
In addition to paint, lead can appear in dust or soil, and young children have a tendency to eat many things, or put their hands in their mouths when playing. This can help transmit lead into the body. Inhalation is also an ingestion method, although fumes in the air tend to appear around construction areas within a home.
A home inspection can find the areas contaminated with environmental hazards, so don't hesitate to use one if there are any questions or concerns about a house.
Radon facts and locations
A frequent naturally occurring gas, radon is both colorless and odorless. Therefore, it is impossible to spot without testing. It is present in soil and atmosphere, so it can commonly enter a home through these means, according to HSH.com. Moreover, areas around water wells might contain radon, and since it is a gas it can get into a house via a number of tiny cracks or crevices.
Be careful to avoid continues exposure to radon, due to its connection to lung cancer. The longer a person breathes it in, the more likely they are to develop health problems. So catch a contamination early - and proactive steps to remove radon-affected soil and water supplies will quickly reduce the dangerous levels in a home.