For the majority of people, the purchase of a home is the single greatest investment of a lifetime. Will the presence of an undetected environmental hazard have a long-term negative impact on that investment? Does the presence of a hazard have the potential to affect the health of the occupants? If hazards can be safely moved or mitigated, will the process alter the homeowner's lifestyle? These questions – and others like them – are, and should be, part of the home buyer's thought process today.
Although it is unrealistic to expect that any home that you are considering purchasing will be free of all forms of environmental influences, most homes (and the areas surrounding most homes) in the United States generally do not contain materials and substances that pose a health threat. However, in recent years, new concerns have been raised as our understanding of the natural environment has increased. Substances, such as radon gas and asbestos, have provoked new questions about how and where we build homes and manage their upkeep.
The pages that follow provide general information about environmental hazards that have the potential to affect the home environment.