Our job as your professional home inspector is to alert you, to the
extent possible, to unknown problems and potential environmental hazards in your current or potential house. Ours is a non-invasive
visual inspection of your property. While we may be able to alert you to possible problems, our basic inspections are no substitutes
for specialized contaminant testing.
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that can be positively
identified only with a special type of microscope. There are several types of asbestos fibers. In the past, asbestos was added
to many products to strengthen them and provide fire resistance and heat insulation. If disturbed, asbestos material may release
asbestos fibers which can be inhaled into the lungs. Asbestos material that crumbles easily if handled or which has been scraped,
sawed, or sanded into a powder is more likely to create a health hazard. Breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can lead
to an increased risk of lung cancer, mesothelioma (cancer of lining of chest and abdominal cavity), and asbestosis (lungs
scarred with the tissue). Houses built between 1930 and 1950 may have asbestos insulation. Most of today’s products
do not contain asbestos. If asbestos material is more than slightly damaged or you plan changes that might disturb it, you
require a professional for repair and removal. Before home remodeling, find out if asbestos is present.
from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “Asbestos and Vermiculite”.
Lead is a highly toxic
metal used for many years in products in and around homes. Lead’s adverse health effects range from behavioral problems
and learning disabilities to seizures and death. Because their bodies are growing quickly, children age 6 and under are at
greatest risk. Primary sources of lead exposure for children are deteriorating lead-based paint, lead-contaminated dust, and
lead-contaminated residential soil. Lead might be present in any home built up until the 1940s. Rarely found in source water,
lead can enter tap water through corrosion of plumbing materials. Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes,
joints, and solder. New homes are also at risk: even legally “lead-free” pipes can contain up to 8 percent lead
and leave significant amounts of lead in the water for the first several months after installation. Since the 1980s, EPA and
its federal partners have banned or limited lead used in consumer products, including residential paint. Federal regulations
limiting the amount of lead in paint sold for residential use started in 1978. If your property was built before 1978 or you
are considering remodeling, renovating, or repair, you may wish to think about lead inspection. Water quality can be compromised
by such other trace elements as iron, excess acidity, manganese, calcium, magnesium, mineral salts, hydrogen sulfide, selenium,
chromium, arsenic, mercury, and cadmium.
Excerpts from U.S. Department of Environmental Protection, “Lead
in Paint, Dust, and Soil”.
Mold (fungi) is present
everywhere, indoors and outdoors. There are more than 100,000 species of mold, at least 1,000 of which are common in America.
Species of Cladosporium, Penicillium, and Aspergillus are some of the most commonly found species. Mold most likely grows
in bathrooms, basements, and anywhere else where there is dampness or water. Many types of mold routinely encountered aren’t
hazardous to healthy individuals. Too much exposure to mold may cause a worsening of such conditions as asthma, hay fever,
or other allergies. Fevers and breathing problems in a vulnerable individual are possible but unusual. When moldy material
becomes damaged or disturbed, spores, which are reproductive bodies similar to seeds, can be released into the air. Exposure
can occur if people inhale the spores, directly handle moldy material, or accidentally ingest the spores. Since all molds
need water to grow, mold can grow almost anywhere where there is high humidity, dampness, or water damage. Most often molds
are confined to areas near the water source. Removing the source of moisture through repairs or dehumidification is crucial
in preventing mold growth. Correcting underlying water damage and cleaning the affected area is the best way to treat mold.
If mold contamination is extensive, a professional abatement company may be needed.
Excerpts from The New York
City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, Environmental & Occupational Disease Epidemiology, “Facts About
Radon is a radioactive
gaseous element produced in the disintegration of radium, a radioactive metallic element. It cannot be detected by the senses
and can be confirmed only by sophisticated instruments and laboratory tests. The gas enters a house through pores and cracks
in the concrete or through floorboards of poorly ventilated crawlspaces, especially when wet ground allows the gas to escape
easily through the soil and disperse in the atmosphere. Radon is a lung carcinogen: the National Academy of Sciences estimates
radon causes some 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths annually. The U.S. Surgeon General and the EPA recommend all houses
be tested for radon. Houses with high radon levels can be fixed.
Excerpts from U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency, “Indoor Radon”.
which play a positive role in recycling wood and plant material, become a problem when they consume structural lumber. Every
year thousands of U.S. housing units require termite treatment. These pests cause serious damage to wooden structures and
posts and can also attack stored food, household furniture, and books. Successful termite management requires special skills,
including a working knowledge of building construction and an understanding of termite biology and identification. In most
cases, it is advisable to hire a professional pest control company for the inspection and control problem.
beetle larvae feed on wood and wood products. Adults of some species bore holes into plaster, plastic, and soft metals.
Many species cause problems when emerging from wood in newly constructed buildings because they leave small circular or oval
exit holes in the wood. To avoid these problems, infested wood must be kiln-fried before being used for lumber. The species
Deathwatch Beetles is primarily found in soft woods (girder, beams, foundation timbers, some types of furniture, with some
species attacking books). False Powderpost female beetles bore a tunnel, or egg gallery, into wood or other materials, then
deposit eggs in pores or cracks within the tunnel. Adults of some species bore through such soft metal as lead and silver,
as well as plaster and other non-wood materials. Affected structural wood should be removed and replaced whenever possible.
Wood Wasps and Horntails. Wood wasp damage in buildings is likely to be more cosmetic than structurally
weakening. Emerging wood wasps can chew through any substance: wallboard or plaster walls, hardwood floors, carpeting, linoleum,
non-ceramic floor tiles, and other interior surfaces.
Carpenter Ants. Several species can damage
wood in building and other structures. Though ants don’t eat wood, they bore into it to make their nests, sometimes
causing serious structural damage. Also, they nest in hollow doors, cracks and crevices, furniture, wall voids, and termite
galleries. New building infestation occurs when land-cleaning in the area disturbs existing native colonies.
from University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources, UCIPMOnline, “Statewide Pest Management Program”.
Chronic ingestion of lead has been associated with a large number of harmful health effects, and therefore water with excessive
lead levels should not be consumed. High levels can be attributed to old lead piping, lead solder used on copper piping and
some installed pumps. In most cases, lead in your drinking water can be reduced by running the water before filling a glass
to drink. pH, alkalinity and hardness correction will reduce corrosion damage.
The presence of nitrate and nitrite generally indicates contamination from a pasture, manure pile, decomposed vegetation or
fertilized agricultural land. Nitrates change to nitrites in the body, which reduces oxygen uptake by the hemoglobin. Boiling
water will not help; it will only concentrate the nitrates.
Total Coliform/ E.Coli. Total coliform
are a group of bacteria with common characteristics used to indicate unacceptable drinking water quality. Within the total
coliform group, the E. Coli bacteria are specifically used to indicate fecal contamination. High non-coliform levels are usually
from the drilling of the well or an indication of surface water intrusion. When non-coliform are greater than 200 CTS per
100ml they can obscure the growth of coliform.
If total coliform, especially E. Coli and/or high non-coliform counts
are present in a well, it needs to be checked for construction problems. It is very common for new or modified wells to have
unacceptable bacteria levels, and often it is necessary to disinfect with bleach or chlorine tablets more than once. If you
have a positive total coliform, E. Coli or high non-coliform count, you should have received an Unacceptable Bacteria Notification
which includes disinfecting instructions.