Asbestos is a fire resistant mineral used extensively as insulation. Soft and highly friable which means it breaks down into small tiny filaments that can float around in the air. When asbestos is located it can be contained through encapsulation or sealed off with a sprayable glue or removed. Asbestos is commonly found in older homes and especially older commercial facilities such as schools, government buildings, hospitals, and shopping centers.
Lead Based Paint
This is almost self-explanatory. The consumption or intake or constant contact with lead has been connected with causing cancer and is harmful to the human body. Older house paints contained a percentage of lead. Cutting, sawing, melting, or having bodily contact with paints containing lead has been proven to be harmful and may cause cancer. Lead based paint has been removed from the market and has been unlawful to use since back in the 1970’s. It is nationally accepted that all buildings constructed since 1978 is free of lead based paint.
Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, radioactive gas produced by the decay of other radioactive substances. Inhaling radon has proven to cause lung cancer. Radon is less of a threat in lower altitudes and more prevalent in higher altitudes where cracks and crevices are beneath the soils surface.
Formaldehyde is a colorless chemical with a strong, pronounced odor and is used widely in the manufacture of building materials and many household products because of preservative characteristics. It is classified as a “Probably human carcinogen.” Formaldehyde is found in particleboard, plywood, and fiberboard, foam insulation. As you can see these products or similar products are used in the construction of most houses.
Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas which is a by-product of burning fuel such as wood, oil and natural gas. A good example is a car running in an enclosed garage. The fumes become a lethal killer in a short period of time.
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
PCBs are not found naturally in nature. They are found in electrical equipment, transformers, electrical motors, refrigerators, caulking compounds, hydraulic oil in older equipment. PCBs can only be destroyed by burning at more than 2400 degrees in a closed environment.
CFCs is a nontoxic, nonflammable chemical used as refrigerants in air conditioners, refrigerators, and freezers, aerosol sprays, paints, solvents and foam-blowing applications. Common sense tells us that the amounts of these used in a house determines the severity.
Mold is probably the common cause affecting health and safety. Mold can be found anywhere where moisture, oxygen, and an organic (wood, paper, leaves) food source are present. I would dare to say that mold can be found in almost all homes regardless of geographic location. Common sense needs to be applied where mold is concerned. We can’t live without mold. Mold is necessary in making certain medications. Molds are ubiquitous in nature, and mold spores are a common component of household and workplace dust. However, when mold spores are present in large quantities, they can present a health hazard to humans, potentially causing allergic reactions and respiratory problems.
Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs)
EMFs are generated by the movement of electrical currents by an electrical appliance such as clock radios, blow dryers, televisions, and computers. Many things produce these electrical currents but not in large enough quantities to become dangerous to our health. Power lines produce these currents but in small quantities. What if a house backed up to a major cross-country power lines? Would they produce enough EMFs to become dangerous? The answer is yes if the house is close enough, and with sustained contact with the current, they can be harmful.
This refers to water that exists under the earth’s surface within the tiny spaces or crevices in geological formations. This water can spring water that is free of imperfections yet it can become contaminated from sources long distances away. Remember water runs down hill and we don’t know how water is used above us. This is the reason we want city water that has been purified for drinking.
Underground Storage Tanks (USTs)
These tanks are commonly found on sites where petroleum products are used, or where gas stations and auto repair shops are or were located. They are also commonly found on industrial sites. Many farms have had above and underground storage tanks. County grocery stores also had underground gas tanks. With age tanks rust and begin leaking which also contaminates groundwater. These tanks can be very expensive to remove and they can’t be ignored.
This term is not common to the general public but is common to most cities. Brownfields are defunct, derelict, or abandoned commercial or industrial site that may contain toxic wastes. We never know what chemicals a company uses, what their dangers are, and if any of those chemicals have been spilt. Abandoned industrial sites have been cleared away and converted into residential developments only to find that contaminates in the soil caused serious health conditions.
Are there other health and safety issues besides the ones listed above? Sure there are but most of them fall under one of these classifications. If you noticed, not one time was the structural condition of a house mentioned as a health and safety concern. These are only a few of the reasons that when you get ready to buy a new home or sell your current home, you should hire a Realtor® to represent you and your best financial interests. They have been properly trained and educated in all areas of concern so they can help protect you before and after you have closed on your purchase.
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