Thursday, June 5, 2008

Arsenic and Old Radon

When you buy a new home, you start to ask yourself questions. Should I upgrade the carpeting? Is it worth it to consider finishing the basement? Do I want a humidifier on the forced hot air? Will I eventually get a shed or park the lawnmower in the garage?

Then there are the more serious questions you ask yourself. Is the construction of this house sound? Is propane gas cheaper than oil or electric? Should I add insulation to the attic? How energy efficient are my windows, doors, and appliances? And perhaps one of the most important questions: How safe is the water?

Nothing can cause panic or stress in the heart of a buyer of a new home like finding out that the levels of certain elements or chemicals are higher than the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) levels of acceptance. Things that can cause panic are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), Radon, Arsenic, and a slew of various other chemicals that are known carcinogens or various other disease causers. These are both naturally occurring and man-made compounds that can seep into your water and without proper filtration you can unknowingly damage the health of your family and yourself.

You may remember a few months ago I wrote about my thoughts on the book "A Civil Action" by Jonathan Harr. Humans did a darn good job screwing up our environment. When purchasing a home, it's a good idea to do a search on the EPA's SuperFund site to make sure that any sites near your potential home are either cleaned up or non-existant. Man-made chemical messes are known to cause damage to drinking water in nearby sources, including private wells. However, there are also a number of naturally occuring elements and chemicals - including Radon, Arsenic, and Iron - that home buyers should be on the lookout for as well. Sometimes there may be presence of both man-made and naturally occurring elements/chemicals and sometimes it may be one or the other. Either way, a comprehensive water test is always highly recommended.

The good news for any home buyer is that proper filtration can eliminate all of these things down to acceptable levels by the EPA and your state/local government standards. Once filtration is installed and running, a second test can show if the levels have been effectively reduced and if they have been then you're clear to continue with the purchase of your new domicile. If they've not been reduced to your satisfaction, then hopefully you and your buying partners were smart enough to arrange a clause in your purchase and sale to exit cleanly in the event of poor water quality.

The most important thing to keep in your sights while purchasing a home is the health, safety, and well-being of your family.

1 comment:

Kstar said...

A very thoughtful post! All these things to think about when buying a house... I'm learning so much from watching you guys!

Hope all is well. Really looking forward to Wednesday!