Environmental tests can mean a variety of things. You can test the air, water, soil or environmental impact of building a new addition or buying a home. The tests give you a basic idea of what contaminants you and your family may be exposed to.
When you’re buying a home, you’ll want to consider these important tests:
One of the biggest things to test before moving into a new home is the water supply. Most cities have their water tested regularly, but homes that are on private wells don’t. The EPA directs homeowners of private wells to test their water once a year, even if they’ve never had an issue with it before. This is largely because contaminants can pop up at any time, and a solid record can help you figure out where they might be coming from.
It’s even becoming common now to test city water, especially after what happened in Flint, Michigan. While that was an unusual case of both negligence and incompetence, the city water systems all over the country are aging. It’s never a bad idea to figure out where your area stands.
There is probably some information about the air quality of your area available online. Some parts of the country are simply worse than others, like anywhere near a city. Los Angeles is known as Smog City for a reason, after all. However, knowing what your particular home’s air is like is also important. It can reveal information about previous occupants, like if they were smokers or had animals. That kind of information can be important if you have kids or suffer from allergies.
According to the National Safety Council, indoor air quality can be significantly worse than outdoor. Since people spend an average of 90 percent of their time indoors, the air quality can have a pretty significant effect on your health. When testing the air, you can look for a few different things, including general pollutants like nicotine and animal dander, pollen and radon.
Radon is an airborne pollutant, but it’s one of the more common ones in the U.S. It’s a naturally occurring radioactive gas, and it exists practically everywhere. In low doses, it’s not a problem, but elevated levels can be dangerous. It’s odorless and colorless, so there’s no way to know if it’s there without testing, and long-term exposure can cause lung cancer.
Radon is one of those tests that should be done once a year, or when a change is planned. Most rental agents or homeowners should do a test before they let someone move in. However, it’s never a bad idea to request one. You can always ask for extra air quality testing to be done when you’re doing paperwork. The application to rent or buy is a perfect place to request additional testing, and it can make you feel much safer before moving in.
Mold is one of the sneakier household issues. It accumulates wherever it tends to be damp. Some of these places are pretty common and easy to check, like basements or bathrooms. However, since you’re just moving in, there is a good chance you won’t know all the characteristics of your new home yet. It might take you a while to realize that a pipe burst and the ceiling tiles weren’t properly replaced, or that there’s a slow drip under the dishwasher.
The current homeowner or renter is likely to check for mold, but unless they can physically see it or smell it, they’ll probably just assume it’s not there. When you move in, testing for it can save you a serious headache later – literally. Mold can cause or worsen all kinds of problems like allergies and asthma.
One other item you should test your new home for is asbestos. The homeowner or property manager is required to tell you about any that’s on the property, but they can only do that if they know about it. The same goes for lead. Just in case, it’s better to request testing, or a copy of the tests that were done before.
Asbestos can be especially dangerous because it’s almost impossible to remove without a professional, and all forms are carcinogenic. Trying to do it on your own can actually make your exposure much worse.
Having your new property tested before you move in can save you a ton of trouble in the long run. Once you’re settled, you’re less likely to do any testing, and fixing the problems can be more disruptive. Getting it done and out of the way can keep you and your family healthier for as long as you live there.
This article was written by Bobbie Peterson, Writer and Blogger at Living Life Green. She writes about sustainability, gardening, minimalism, and more.