Environmental Testing includes checks for 
Radon Gas, 
Radon in Water, 
Septic Energizer, 
Water Quality, 
Carbon Monoxide, 
Asbestos, Bacteria, and  
Pesticides in Water. 
These tests kits and some for lead are available.IM003255.JPG (552194 bytes)
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 followed.
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.
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