Health Concerns and Older Homes

Health Concerns and Older Homes

The following is an article I wrote regarding some health concerns and real estate purchases. Don't jump into rehabbing if you are not protected or if specialists are required by law to remove (asbestos) for example. -Robert

A word of caution: if you are purchasing a substantially older home, know what you're getting! Older properties may still have outdated plumbing, antiquated electrical wiring and environmental concerns such as lead based paint and asbestos.

The use of lead based paint was once widespread throughout the country. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), lead-based paint was applied to about two-thirds of the houses built in the United States prior to 1940; to one-third of the house built between 1940-1960; and to a smaller percentage of houses built since 1960.

The EPA has stated that; "lead may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death" More information on lead can be obtained by going to:

Asbestos may be found in roofing material, linoleum flooring, insulation and textured paint and patching compounds in homes built prior to 1978. Fireplaces may have bricks and mortar containing asbestos fibers. Wood-burning stoves may be insulated with asbestos paper as well.

The following information from the EPA addresses health concerns involving asbestos.

"From studies of people who were exposed to asbestos in factories and shipyards......breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of: lung cancer, mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity; and asbestosis, in which the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue.....

People who get asbestosis have usually been exposed to high levels of asbestos for a long time. The symptoms of these diseases do not usually appear until about 20 to 30 years after the first exposure to asbestos.

Most people exposed to small amounts of asbestos, as we all are in our daily lives, do not develop these health problems. However, if disturbed, asbestos material may release tiny fibers, which can be inhaled into the lungs. The fibers can remain there for a long time, increasing the risk of disease.

Asbestos material that would crumble easily if handled, or that has been sawed, scraped, or sanded into a powder, is more likely to create a health hazard." For additional information on asbestos heath concerns, visit:

In most states the homeowner must disclose property issues involving environmental concerns. If the home has had several owners, track previous owners down through chain of title. Go down to the city or county building department and find out if building permits were issued for remodeling; you may be able to find what work was performed by contractors.

In summary; knowing what you’re purchasing before you close the deal, will not only bring peace of mind, it will save your pocketbook and possibly your health.


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Important information

WYSIWYG pays to have a quality inspection done by competent inspector. Smiling


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Thanks for the insightful article and information. I know in our area of the midwest there are many homes built before 1960 and asbestos and lead paint can be an issue. Thus, some older homes can have hidden repairs that are costly once you start a rehab. Thanks again for the information and continued success. Believe and Achieve! Smiling - Joe


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