Purchasing a home is major decision for anyone, but this can be an especially nerve-racking time for first-time homebuyers. First-time homebuyers may be overwhelmed with the process of looking for a home, negotiating a sales price, getting a mortgage and the home inspection process.
During this exciting and sometimes hectic time period, it’s also important for first-time homebuyers to evaluate the indoor air quality (IAQ) of the property they are considering for the future health and well-being of their family. Indoor air quality pollutants can be a problem in old homes, remodeled homes and even brand new properties.
The indoor air quality is an important consideration as some could be contaminated with elevated levels of chemical, microbial and even radioactive pollutants. Fortunately, there are indoor air quality professionals who can examine the home’s HVAC system and the overall air quality to determine if any problems exist and make recommendation for how they can be resolved.
A partial list of common indoor pollutants that could cause concerns includes the following:
- Mold – Moisture, high humidity levels and water damage can lead to the growth of mold which may at times be out of sight. Exposure to mold can trigger asthma in some people, act as an respiratory irritant, cause allergies and hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), and some types of mold can expose people to mycotoxins and even cause serious infections in people with a weakened immune system
- Bacteria – Potentially dangerous bacteria may be present if the property ever experienced flooding or a sanitary sewer overflow (SSO).
- Radon – People cannot, see, taste or smell radon and it can be found in many regions. It comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water, and can cause lung cancer.
- Carbon Monoxide – Many homes have numerous potential sources of carbon monoxide. Exposure to elevated levels of the odorless, colorless, toxic gas can cause death.
- Volatile Organic Compounds – Also known as VOCs, they include a wide range of chemicals found in many building materials, furnishing, finishes, and chemicals found in homes. VOCs are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids and many, such as formaldehyde, are known to have potential adverse health effects for people.
- Vapor Intrusion – This is a process by which chemicals migrate to the indoor air above a contaminated site. It generally occurs when there is movement of volatile chemicals from contaminated groundwater or soil into an overlying building.
- Asbestos – Up until the 1970s, many types of interior and exterior building products contained asbestos. Airborne exposure can lead to mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer.
- Lead-based Paints – Paints containing lead are one of the most significant sources of exposure to this toxic heavy metal for most people. Homes built before 1960 may contain heavily leaded paint. Some homes built as recently as 1978 also contain lead-based paints.
- Allergens & Potential Asthma Triggers – Some of the more common indoor allergens include mold, bacteria, pet dander, cockroaches, dust mites, pollen, VOCs and latex.
- Clandestine Drug Laboratory Residues – Toxic chemical residues may be present in a property that was once used for the illegal production of methamphetamine.
- Smoke & Soot – Wildfires or structure fires can cause smoke and soot damage that may leave behind unpleasant odors and respiratory irritants.
These are just a few things to know about potential common indoor air quality concerns for homebuyers. To learn more about this or other indoor air quality, health and safety, occupational or other environmental issues, contact us today!