Purchasing a house is exciting, but can also be daunting. From selecting the perfect neighborhood in a good school district to finding the right size home for your family, there is a lot to consider before diving in. It’s important to know what to look out for as you search a place to live, including warning signs and hazards that could turn your dream home into a nightmare.
Whether you’re a first-time buyer or not, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the fungi and toxins that may be present. Aspects of the house, including when it was built and where it’s located, will have an effect on this. Although there is a lot to contemplate, ensuring the health of your future home could have a profound effect on your own health down the line.
Mold is a fungus that grows best in warm, damp environments and could lead to a variety of health issues. Although some people are more prone to show symptoms of mold exposure than others, it’s smart to be aware of its existence in the home. Symptoms of mold exposure range from congestion and coughing to a sore throat, and often mimic that of a cold.
Mold is most commonly found in places where water is, including the shower or under the sink, but can hide in the walls and ceiling. Make sure to find out if your prospective home has a history of mold prior to purchasing.
Asbestos is a dangerous mineral and toxin that can be found in homes built during much of the 20th century. Unfortunately, the carcinogen has yet to be banned and the EPA is seemingly pushing for new uses of the mineral, provided the agency consents.
Newly-manufactured products are allowed to include up to one percent of the toxin, and according to a recently proposed Suggested New Use Rule, asbestos use could increase in manufacturing. Some countries, including Brazil and Ireland, have banned asbestos use. However, its continued application in the U.S. is a matter of major concern, especially considering the cancers it may lead to decades later, including mesothelioma. Before signing your name on the dotted line, be sure to speak with the current homeowner or realtor about when the home was built, if it has been checked for toxins and if there are any underlying reasons for concern.
Lead was commonly used as a means of tinting paint throughout much of the 20th century. Although the heavy metal’s use wasn’t banned until 1978, it was known to be toxic as early as the late 1800s. Lead can be found in several areas of the home, including pipes and plumbing materials which may affect drinking water. You may want to inquire about the presence of lead if the home you’re considering was built prior to the 1980s.
As you visit open houses, be sure to come prepared with questions to ask the realtor. These questions include:
- When was the house built?
- Has the home been inspected for asbestos?
- Is there a known history of mold?
- Have there been any problems with the foundation?
- Do you know if the interior or exterior was painted with a lead-based paint?
As you’re going through the process of buying a house, take a deep breath and remember that you’re taking the first steps toward establishing a home.
August 13, 2018