Buying a home is a thrilling yet challenging experience, especially for first-time buyers. The process requires financial due diligence and careful planning. When purchasing a home, the property’s location, size, and price matters. But, assessing the environmental risks associated with it is also important.
New data reveals that about 79% of homes in the U.S. had one environmental risk factor. Indoor environmental hazards contribute to widespread illness and even death.
If you overlook environmental risks in the home-buying process, you will regret it later. What environmental risks should you consider when buying a home, then? While there are plenty of hazards to consider, we’ll discuss the most important ones here.
Molds are a part of our natural environment. This microscopic fungus helps decompose dead organic material outdoors, like dead trees and fallen leaves. But mold indoors is problematic. Indoor mold growth causes significant damage to the property. It is also associated with adverse health effects.
Mold exposure in the indoor environment can trigger nasal congestion and respiratory infections and worsen allergic conditions and asthma.
Exposure to residential mold predisposes children to respiratory conditions such as asthma. It may also increase their risk of symptomatic respiratory tract infections (RTIs). A recent study published in ScienceDirect reveals this.
Mold inspection is, therefore, crucial before buying a house. Check for musty odors because it is one of the first warning signs of mold. Look for stains, discolored areas, or water lines in the home you plan to buy. Dark grout in shower tiles and soft spots on floors also indicate mold buildup.
However, detecting mold isn’t easy because it isn’t visible to the naked eye. This fungus thrives in dark, damp areas such as behind walls, beneath the flooring, up in attics, and inside the HVAC system.
That is why hiring a professional mold inspector will be the best decision. Professionals thoroughly inspect the property for molds using state-of-the-art equipment such as hygrometers and digital moisture meters.
#2 Private Well Water
EPA estimates that over 23 million U.S. households rely on private wells for drinking water.
Having access to clean drinking water is crucial for your health and safety. This is why considering the home’s water quality is essential, especially if you’re buying a home with a private well.
Recent research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention disclosed that one in five sampled private wells was found to be contaminated at levels that could affect human health.
Researchers of a study published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology reveal that nitrate concentrations are higher in private wells than in community water systems. Nitrate ingested from drinking water increases the risk of some cancers and birth defects.
Another contaminant widely detected in private well water across the U.S. is uranium, suggests the same study. Exposure to uranium is linked with deleterious health effects, including immune dysfunction.
Private wells are also at an increased risk of PFAS contamination, even in areas with no industrial activity. New data reveals that the drinking water of about 26 million Americans is polluted with PFAS or forever chemicals.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in drinking water has become a matter of concern because it has been associated with adverse health outcomes. These include changes in thyroid hormone levels, testicular and kidney cancer, decreased birth weight, and immunotoxicity.
One of the worst water contamination tragedies that occurred at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is worth mentioning in this context.
Extraordinarily high concentrations of PFAS were detected in the well water of Camp Lejeune. More than one million veterans and their family members were exposed to the toxic water of the marine base.
Over the past 40 decades, thousands of activists have been urging the Veterans Affairs (V.A.) and the Department of Defense (DOD) to compensate those who have suffered health issues due to exposure to the contaminated water of the military base. Still, early settlement failed to address the concerns of many affected individuals.
On August 10, 2022, President Biden signed the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 into law. Section 804 of this law is the CLJA (Camp Lejeune Justice Act) of 2022, which allows victims to claim compensation by filing a Camp Lejeune lawsuit.
Some health conditions and symptoms of Camp Lejeune water contamination that qualify for the lawsuit are bladder, breast, and cervical cancers, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, aplastic anemia, and renal toxicity.
Throwing light on CLJA, TorHoerman Law explains that those who resided at the marine base for 30 days between 1953 and 1987 are eligible to file a claim.
Besides health, water quality significantly impacts real estate prices, and numerous studies demonstrate that. Recent research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that the property value increases by $6 to $9 billion in the U.S. if there is a 10% improvement in the water quality.
Therefore, you should always check the water quality of the home you’re planning to buy.
#3 Lead-Based Paints
Lead-based paints were in high demand in the 1970s because they were water-resistant, durable, and affordable. However, the federal government prohibited consumer use of these paints in 1978.
Lead-based paints were banned due to health concerns. Exposure to lead, even at low levels, can increase blood pressure in adults, damage the brain and nervous system of children, and cause miscarriage in pregnant women.
Though banned in 1978, lead-based paint hazards exist in around 29 million housing units. These include lead-contaminated house dust and deteriorated paint.
If the home you’re planning to buy was built prior to 1978, there is a high possibility that the painted surfaces contain lead paint. By scheduling a professional lead inspection, you can be sure whether the paint contains lead or is lead-free. You can always get lead paints removed by hiring professionals.
Lead-based paints aren’t hazardous as long as they are not peeling and maintained properly. Still, it’s best to get rid of them, or selling your home in the future will become difficult.
To sum things up, buying a house requires a significant amount of money. That is why you should go beyond the aesthetics and the location when purchasing one. Conducting thorough research on environmental risks such as molds, well water quality, and lead-based paints will help you understand if a particular house is a good investment.
You must also inspect the property for radon gas, asbestos, and lead pipes before you buy it. Performing an A to Z check before sealing the deal will help you avoid unwelcome surprises down the road.