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REAL ESTATE & ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

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Keep in mind, the environmental problem is not yours until you own the building. Testing before purchase can protect the health of those you care about and protect you from the potential of tens of thousands of dollars in remediation costs after you purchase a property.

Indoor air quality is a world-wide problem. According to the EPA, lung cancer due to radon exposure accounts for approximately 21,000 deaths each year. In fact, Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Lead is a great health threat to children and infants, with exposure leading to brain damage, kidney damage and neurological deficiencies. The EPA also reports that “Outbreaks of the fungi Stachybotrys chartarum (S. chartarum) are under investigation for an association with the deaths of infants in Cleveland, Ohio, and serious health problems in other areas of the U.S.”

With recent hurricanes and flooding, damaged properties are overcome with high amounts of mold which carries with it potential respiratory problems and/or severe illness for the occupants of the property. Even owners of new commercial buildings and residential homes are finding that efficient air-tight construction often seals up moisture and allows for mold growth inside walls and insulation which often is undetected until someone gets symptoms of an illness. Sadly, these are just a few of the environmental hazards facing the world today.

The only safeguard you have for protecting yourself, your family, and your employees is an environmental inspection. It is not necessary to wait until signs of a problem are evident. More often than not, people do not even realize these hazards exist in their home or workplace. 90% of a person’s time is spent indoors! So the question is, “What is the next step?” 

: Most indoor air pollution comes from sources inside the building. For example, adhesives, carpeting, upholstery, manufactured wood products, copy machines, pesticides, and cleaning agents may emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including formaldehyde. Environmental tobacco smoke contributes high levels of VOCs, other toxic compounds, and respirable particulate matter. Research shows that some VOCs can cause chronic and acute health effects at high concentrations, and some are known carcinogens. Low to moderate levels of multiple VOCs may also produce acute reactions. Combustion products such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, as well as respirable particles, can come from unvented kerosene and gas space heaters, woodstoves, fireplaces and gas stoves.

: The outdoor air that enters a building can be a source of indoor air pollution. For example, pollutants from motor vehicle exhausts; plumbing vents, and building exhausts (e.g., bathrooms and kitchens) can enter the building through poorly located air intake vents, windows, and other openings. In addition, combustion products can enter a building from a nearby garage.

: Bacteria, molds, pollen, and viruses are types of biological contaminants. These contaminants may breed in stagnant water that has accumulated in ducts, humidifiers and drain pans, or where water has collected on ceiling tiles, carpeting, or insulation. Sometimes insects or bird droppings can be a source of biological contaminants. Physical symptoms related to biological contamination include cough, chest tightness, fever, chills, muscle aches, and allergic responses such as mucous membrane irritation and upper respiratory congestion.

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