includes checks for
| Radon Gas,
| Radon in Water,
| Septic Energizer,
| Carbon Monoxide,
| Asbestos, Bacteria, and
| Pesticides in Water.
|These tests kits and some for lead are available.
|The term "environmental concerns" covers a very wide area of
inquiry. To begin, we will explore various categories that fall under
this subject heading.
|Air, water and soil are considered environmental media. That is, each
is at risk from contamination from different sources, each reacts
differently to that contamination, and each poses a different problem
for the home buyer. In addition, each medium can be contaminated in at
least three ways: introduction, presence and naturally occurring.
|Introduction takes the form of spills or leaks from stationary
containers or nearby processes, or from transient sources like trucks or
ships. It is extremely rare today when an accidental spill or leak goes
unnoticed. Waterfront property or property near rail lines or truck
routes is obviously more vulnerable than other places. It is the risk we
take for living in an industrial society.
|Presence is when contamination exists in a medium due to some
historical use. If a subdivision is built over or near an old landfill
or industrial site, for example, hazardous substances could surface
because of the disturbance caused by housing construction. The presence
of existing hazardous contaminants is difficult to detect. Some states
require environmental surveys of land before development proceeds. This
is not universal; there are some horror stories out there about
neighborhoods suddenly discovering an alarming increase in illness,
ultimately linked to a hazardous chemical residue in the area not
detected before development.
|Naturally occurring substances exist in nature without any assistance
from us. We simply choose to build homes where these substances exist.
Radon is a commonly recognized example.
|As you can see, environmental concerns can be obvious or most
unexpected. Future segments will explore the details of each type of
contamination, how to search out the facts, and what you can do to avoid
a very expensive and possibly harmful mistake.
|Contamination of the air can be subtle and even dangerous. Our
atmosphere is a very efficient cleaning mechanism, filtering or
dispersing harmful components that otherwise can cause serious
health problems. But relying on the atmosphere to do all the work is
misguided and shortsighted. Consequently, the federal government
(EPA) has promulgated laws to prohibit industry from emissions that
exceed certain limits. Like all laws, however, they are not always
|Your soon-to-be-new home may be lovely in all respects, but
vulnerable to airborne contamination. That factory out of sight,
miles away, may be a source of air pollution. If climatic conditions
are just right, that air coming from the smokestack can go directly
over (and into) your home.
|One way to know if this situation exists is to determine the wind
patterns in your area. The National Weather Service is a good source
for this information. Most areas will have two seasonal patterns:
winter brings winds from one direction, summer from another. These
are called prevailing winds. They blow for 2-6 months out of the
year from one direction during that particular season.
|After determining the prevailing wind(s), drive several miles in
that direction looking for factories, industries, quarries,
landfills, etc.. If you have a local or state air quality office,
contact them for additional information. They can also tell you if
any upwind industries have received violation letters or if legal
action has been taken to force compliance with air quality laws.
|It is nearly impossible for a homeowner to stop the impacts from
contaminated air. There are no handy air filters you can attach to
your "air faucet." What you smell (or don't) is what you
get. If you have a family member sensitive to air pollution, it is
worth finding the source before you buy.
|The horrible oil refineries and, chemical companies and petrochemical
processing plants in the Houston dumps TONS of polluting into the
air and water. Most of the pollutant dumps are not fined and the EPA
is no doing much to stop the constant abuse. Often when it
rains in the area, the resident can sell "rotten eggs".
That odor is sulfur dioxide which is a byproduct of the oil refining
process. They polluters at the petrochemical know that it much
harder for EPA to detect the massive releases during a rainstorm, so
they open the values and poison the water and air.
|I don't suggest that anyone by a residence anywhere near a
processing plant. People do it anyway.