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 isnt 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. This test is provided free of charge by individuals who sell softening and water treatment systems. A water Lab Analysis can be obtained to test a water sample for bacteria such as coliform and E-coli. Additional lab analysis can be obtainted where water may be tested for the presence of lead, copper, nitrate and/or nitrite. You should discuss these options with your home inspector if you have cause for concern.
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. Lead swab and tape sampling is availble, at an additional expense, at the time of your home inspection. This sampling, however, needs to be requested in advance.
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. Radon sampling can be performed, at an additional expense, with you home inspection. The property will need to be closed and the testing devices left undisturbe for 3-10 days. The testing device will then be sent to a lab for results. Radon sampling needs to be requested in advance of the home inspection.
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. Asbestos sampling can be done at the time of the home inspection, at an additional expense and with the consent of the homeowner, as a sample must be removed from the property. This sample is sent to a lab for testing and results. Asbestos sampling must be scheduled in advance of the home inspection to assure that all requirements are met.