The environmental issues discussed below are beyond the scope of a Standard Home Inspection. Professional Opinion is qualified to conduct Professional Radon Gas Testing and Wood Destroying Insect Infestation Inspections, which can be requested for an additional fee. Qualified specialists should be utilized to address other environmental issues including those listed below. Due to the technical information required with environmental issues, much of the information below is summarized or extracted directly from publications or websites of leading authorities such as the US EPA, CDC, state and local health departments. Information and results from ongoing research may not be immediately available, but will be updated periodically.
Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that has been found in homes all over the United States. It comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe. Elevated levels of radon gas are the second leading cause of lung cancer, however, radon levels can be reduced to safe levels with properly installed mitigation systems. Dan is certified as a Radon Measurement Technician from the National Radon Safety Board and is a member of the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists. Professional radon gas tests are conducted using continuous radon monitors from RADALINK and activated charcoal passive diffusion adsorption canisters from RTCA, both of which are NYS ELAP certified. Radon gas testing is conducted in accordance with the EPA radon testing protocols established for Real Estate transactions and in compliance with NYS Health Department regulations. Choosing to have your existing or prospective new home tested for radon gas can prevent exposing your family to the second leading cause of lung cancer from the air they breathe. See additional information about radon gas and a list of qualified mitigation contractors at the US EPA, NYS and Erie County Health Departments links below.
U.S. Surgeon General Health Advisory
“Indoor radon gas is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and breathing it over prolonged periods can present a significant health risk to families all over the country. It’s important to know that this threat is completely preventable. Radon can be detected with a simple test and fixed through well-established venting techniques.” January 2005
US EPA – Radon
NYS Department of Health – Radon
Home Buyers and Sellers Guide
NYS Mitigation Contractors
Consumers Guide to Radon Reduction
NYS Radon Levels by Town
Erie County Radon Map
American Association of Radon Scientists & Technologists
Although it is rare to discover termites in the colder Western New York climate, other wood destroying insects such as powder post beetles, carpenter ants and carpenter bees can be severely destructive to wood framing and components.
Having completed the required course work and exam from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Dan earned the Certified Pesticide Technician designation and is qualified to conduct Wood Destroying Insect Infestation Inspections in New York State. Form NPMA-33 from the National Pest Management Association is used to report the results of a Wood Destroying Insect Infestation Inspection and is the required document for some clients who have chosen FHA/HUD, VA, and USDA mortgages. Choosing to add the optional Wood Destroying Insect Infestation Inspection during your home inspection can identify and report visual evidence of destructive insects.
There is some mold everywhere – in the air and on many surfaces indoors and outdoors. Molds have been on the Earth for millions of years, are important for the decay of organic materials and for production of many food products such as cheese, beer, bread, mushrooms, truffles and some medicines. An important fact is that mold grows where there is moisture, which is a controllable component. Water leakage in any form, as well as sources of excessive moisture, should be corrected to control mold growth.
Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects, especially in individuals with allergies, immune-compromised people and those with chronic lung illnesses. Research on mold and it’s health effects is ongoing. If you have health concerns, consult a health professional.
The following guidance can be found on the CDC website – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Mold growth, which often looks like spots, can be many different colors, and can smell musty. If you can see or smell mold, a health risk may be present. You do not need to know the type of mold growing in your home, and CDC does not recommend or perform routine sampling for molds. No matter what type of mold is present, you should remove it. Since the effect of mold on people can vary greatly, either because of the amount or type of mold, you can not rely on sampling and culturing to know your health risk. Also, good sampling for mold can be expensive, and standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable quantity of mold have not been set. The best practice is to remove the mold and work to prevent future growth.”
The following guidance can be found in the EPA Publication A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home. “Is sampling for mold needed? In most cases, if visible mold growth is present, sampling is unnecessary. Since no EPA or other federal limits have been set for mold or mold spores, sampling cannot be used to check a building’s compliance with federal mold standards. Surface sampling may be useful to determine if an area has been adequately cleaned or remediated. Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods, and interpreting results. Sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other professional organizations.”
Testing and remediation, including sampling, removal or cleaning of suspected mold containing materials, should be conducted by qualified contractors.
According the US EPA website; asbestos is the name given to a number of naturally occurring fibrous minerals with high tensile strength, the ability to be woven, and resistance to heat and most chemicals. Because of these properties, asbestos fibers have been used in a wide range of manufactured goods, including roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, paper and cement products, textiles, coatings, and friction products such as automobile clutch, brake and transmission parts. The current federal definition of asbestos is the asbestiform varieties of: chrysotile (serpentine); crocidolite (riebeckite); amosite (cummingtonite/grunerite); anthophyllite; tremolite; and actinolite.
Exposure to airborne friable asbestos may result in a potential health risk because persons breathing the air may breathe in asbestos fibers. Continued exposure can increase the amount of fibers that remain in the lung. Fibers embedded in lung tissue over time may cause serious lung diseases including: asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma. Smoking increases the risk of developing illness from asbestos exposure. If you have health concerns, consult a health professional.
Asbestos cannot be positively identified visually. The presence or absence of asbestos can only be verified by laboratory analysis. Testing and remediation including sampling, removal or encapsulation of suspected asbestos containing materials, should be conducted by licensed contractors.
According the NYS Department of Health website, lead is a heavy metal and was used in many materials and products before the risk to young children was known. Certain products such as paintsused in older homes before 1978, lead solder used in plumbing, and leaded gasoline were used before their harmful health effects were recognized. Although laws now prevent lead from being used in many products, there can still be lead hazards in and around many homes. Lead can get into the air, water, food, soil, and even dust and then can be breathed or swallowed leading to serious health problems, especially for young children.
Lead is a toxin (poison) that can harm young children. Children 6 years old and under are most at risk because their bodies are still developing. A young child’s exposure to lead can cause learning and behavioral problems and possibly damage their brains, kidneys, and other organs.
Lead enters the body when children breathe lead dust or lead fumes, or swallow something with lead in it. Young children often put things in their mouth, creating a way for lead to enter the body. The main way most young children are exposed to harmful levels of lead is through contact with lead contaminated paint and dust. In nearly all cases, lead dust is either breathed in, or taken in as dust licked off surfaces or in swallowed paint chips that contain lead.
New York State Public Health Regulations require all health care providers to test all children for blood lead levels at age 1 and again at age 2. In addition, health care providers are also required to evaluate all children 6 months to 6 years of age for risk of lead exposure each year as part of routine care.
If you have health concerns, consult a health professional. Testing and remediation, including sampling, removal, encapsulation or stabilization of suspected lead containing materials, should be conducted by licensed contractors.
EPA – Lead in Paint, Dust and Soil
Erie County Department of Health – Lead
EPA Pub. – Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Lead
NYS Department of Health – Lead
Information below is from the NYS and Erie County Health Department and CDC websites. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a potentially deadly gas. It is colorless, odorless, tasteless and non-irritating. It is generally produced as a by-product from the incomplete burning of carbon-containing fuels such as wood, oil, natural gas, kerosene, coal and gasoline. If inhaled in large quantities for a prolonged period of time, it can cause unconsciousness, brain damage and death. In fact, CO has been the known cause of over 250 deaths and thousands of cases of non-fatal poisoning in the United States each year. The symptoms of CO poisoning can include: Fatigue, Nausea, Overall paleness, Headaches, Coughing, Cherry lips and ear tips, Dizziness, Irregular breathing. If you have health concerns, leave the home and consult a health professional immediately.
US EPA – Carbon Monoxide
NYS Department of Health – Hazard Alert: Carbon Monoxide
Erie County Department of Environment and Planning – Carbon Monoxide Program
CDC and Prevention – Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention