Why You Should Get Residential Environmental Testing (and What to Do After)

Introduction

Home is where we spend a large portion of our lives. It’s important to make sure that our homes are not only comfortable, but also free from threats to our families’ health and safety. Residential environmental testing, or environmental inspection, is an important component to ensuring the absence of these threats.

What is Residential Environmental Testing?

Residential environmental testing is a series of inspections conducted at your home. It commonly includes testing for things such as mold, lead, asbestos, and the air quality of your home. There are also specialty inspections and testing that check for allergens, the quality of your water and soil, or look for dangerous gasses.

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Why Should You Get Environmental Testing of Your Home Done?

Environmental inspection can identify improvements that need to be made to your home. Testing is the only way to alert you to the presence of hazards that can be harmful to you and your family, as well as costly to rectify if left untouched for a long period of time.

In addition to the cost of fixing environmental issues themselves, they can also lead to large amounts of medical debt if you allow the hazards to remain untreated. For example, asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma and, depending on your medical coverage, mesothelioma treatment costs can range from $10,000-50,000 per month. The CDC reports that health issues related to mold can include lung inflammation and asthma. For people with severe allergies, specialty testing of dust and allergens within the home can provide peace of mind and a path toward symptom relief.

When Should You Conduct an Environmental Inspection?

when to get environmental testingIf you’re shopping for a new home, it’s a great idea to have an environmental home inspection in addition to a traditional inspection. On the other hand, if you’re selling your home, it’s also a great time to have these inspections completed because it makes for a great selling point and can help you close faster. In addition, if your home is older, you should have inspections for lead and asbestos done as soon as possible. The U.S. government banned the use of lead paint in 1978 and asbestos in the 1980s, but both are often still present in older buildings. If your home isn’t a newer build, then it’s important to find out if these hazards are present in your home.

It’s also easy to end up with mold in your home and professional removal is important in situations where cleaning won’t fix the problem. There are many reasons and times to test for mold. For example, if your home has had any water damage or you’ve experienced flooding, you should have a mold inspection completed. Homes that have been unoccupied for a while (such as vacation homes) should also be inspected. If you’ve recently had mold remediation, then a follow up inspection is necessary to ensure the issue has been resolved. Of course, if you believe you’ve seen mold, you should also schedule an inspection. And finally, if you have symptoms of mold exposure it’s necessary to test for mold in your home. There are many illnesses you can get from exposure to mold and the symptoms vary; but in general, fatigue, coughing, wheezing, headaches, body aches, and nose bleeds without other explanation are a good indicator that you should inspect for mold.

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What Should You Do After Testing?

Hopefully, you received good news after your testing. If nothing harmful was found, then continue to keep an eye on your home and arrange for further testing should other concerns arise. On the other hand, if something was found, the course of action for hazards discovered depends on the specific issue.

If asbestos was found in your home, the next steps largely depend on the condition of the items containing asbestos. For example, if the item is undamaged, then asbestos exposure is unlikely. In this situation, continue to monitor the area because wear and tear can lead to exposure and may require repair. These repairs should always be handled by a professional, not done yourself, because disturbing asbestos creates risk of exposure to the fibers and improper handling can create a hazard where none existed before. Removal is sometimes required by state or local law, but it’s the most expensive option and comes with the greatest risk of exposure to fiber, so it should be avoided if possible.

westchester asbestos testingLead paint is often handled by painting over it and it’s important to take precautions when doing so. You never want to try to sand or scrape off lead paint. Instead, use an encapsulant and then paint over it with new paint. You should dispose of materials, such as drop cloths used while painting over lead paint, and immediately wash the clothing you wore during the project when you finish. Keep the area clean and make sure not to spread dust from the area which may contain lead. After you’re finished, you should regularly monitor the area to make sure the original paint remains covered and keep children and pets away from the area as they are more likely to chip and ingest the paint.

If mold was detected, it’s important to remove the mold. Most mold comes from issues such as leaks, and these problems need to be fixed first so that the mold doesn’t return. The best option is to have a professional come in and handle the remediation. Once you have completed testing and have blueprint for mold removal, you can choose a reputable remediation company to implement the plan. Ask about their certifications, insurance and licensing, as well as how long they’ve been in business. You may even want to ask for references. The process of mold recemdiation itself is detailed here.

What is the Cost of Fixing Residential Environmental Issues?

cost of environmental testingThe price of fixing these issues depends on a lot of factors and can climb quickly. Though location impacts the price, the average mold removal cost is $2,347. Asbestos, on the other hand, can range anywhere from $1,120 for a small space to $30,000 to remediate an entire house. Unfortunately, many insurance policies and home warranties won’t cover the abatement of these hazards, leaving homeowners responsible for the cost. If you have emergency savings, this is always the best option for financing your repairs. However, if you don’t have the necessary funds on hand, you can apply for an equity loan based on the amount of equity you’ve currently paid into your house. The funds can be used for anything and often have a lower interest rate than other personal loans. In the cases of some home improvements, the interest paid on these loans can also be deducted when you file your taxes.

Final Thoughts

Environmental hazards in your home can be frightening and overwhelming to address, but it’s important for the health and safety of yourself and your family to routinely test for them. Regularly monitoring your house, getting testing as needed, and having a plan to handle any problems can make things easier on both your health and peace of mind.

Nationally, there are thousands of contaminated sites of varying size and significance in settings ranging from abandoned buildings in inner cities to large areas contaminated with toxic materials from past industrial or mining activities. (EPA)

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