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June 2014 Article

When Buyers Ask You About a Property's Air Quality

Be prepared for air quality questions like “If this home has radon, should we still buy it?” or requirements like “My child has asthma, so the home inspection will have to test for volatile organic compounds (VOCs).”
 
Indoor air quality is becoming a hot topic among many home buyers, and for good reason: Each day we breathe about 5,000 gallons of air, and since most people spend over 90% of their time indoors these days, the quality of air inside directly impacts the health of all the occupants.
 
Here’s a rundown of the most common indoor air contaminants your buyers might be concerned about:
 
Carbon Monoxide
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a gas that can build up to dangerous concentrations indoors when fuel-burning devices are not properly vented, operated, or maintained. Because it has no odor, color, or taste, CO cannot be detected by our natural senses. It is estimated that unintentional CO exposure accounts for about 500 deaths in the United States each year.
 
Volatile Organic Compounds
VOCs are carbon-based chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature. While most people can smell high levels of some VOCs, other VOCs have no odor. VOCs can be emitted from such products as carpets, composite wood products, paints and vinyl floors.
 
Asbestos
When disturbed, tiny asbestos fibers easily become airborne, and, when inhaled, they can travel deep into the lungs and become trapped in lung tissue. Once trapped, these fibers can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. There's no known safe level of asbestos exposure.
 
Radon
Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that seeps up from the earth. When inhaled, it gives off radioactive particles that can damage the cells that line the lung, and long term exposure can lead to lung cancer.
 
Mold
Mold can cause symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and nasal and throat conditions.  People with asthma or allergies who are sensitive to mold may notice their asthma or allergy symptoms worsen.
 
Lead
Old lead-based paint is the most significant source of lead exposure in homes built before 1978. Lead enters the body when an individual breathes airborne particles, or eats something that lead particles or contaminated dust has settled upon. Harmful exposures can be created when lead-based paint is improperly removed from surfaces by dry scraping, sanding, or open-flame burning.
 
Listen carefully to your buyers’ concerns about indoor air contaminants, and learn how to help them find experts who can test for contaminants, and mitigate them, if necessary. Your expertise about air quality will make you even more valuable to homebuyers who want to live in a healthy home. 

To better serve buyers who are concerned about living in a healthy home, see if our new 3-hour online CE course “Indoor Air Quality” is offered in your state.


By Jim Luger, CDEI
Certified Distance Education Instructor
Continuing Ed Express

Arello Certified

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