Should Your Home Be Tested for Lead or Radon Health Hazards?

Should Your Home Be Tested for Lead or Radon Health Hazards?

By HOM Editorial Team
June 2016

Fast Fact: Your home is your sanctuary. But it also runs the risk of lead and radon hazards. That’s why your community’s REALTORS® work hard to inform and protect you against these dangers.

Does the news out of Flint, Michigan, about lead in its water make you nervous about the water in your own home?

Unfortunately, it isn’t an uncommon problem. Lead is one of two leading home-traced health hazards in our country today. The second? That’s radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas.

It doesn’t matter if you rent or own. People all across across our country, from New Jersey to Mississippi, and South Carolina to Washington D.C., have been hurt by these invisible dangers.

How Did Lead Become Such a Problem?

Before we knew lead was a danger, it was used in a ton of products. Not until the 1970s was it mandated that lead could not be used, first in gas, then in paint, and later in household plumbing fixtures.

It was a good move, but not soon enough to stop lead from contaminating soil in locations where it was used. Homes near busy roadways and manufacturing facilities may still have lead in the soil around them (not good for kids playing outside!).

Any home built before the 1978 legislation runs the risk of lead in paint. Loose paint chips can look like candy to kids because of the color. And, although the installation of lead water pipes was outlawed, many older homes still have them lead in pipes or soldering leading up to the home, pipes inside the home itself, or lead in interior brass plumbing fixtures. And some water districts stuggle with excessive lead and other contaminants in the water source itself.

Lead Is a National Problem

Millions of homes have higher than acceptable levels of lead in the water. In fact, it may surprise you to learn that as many as 274 water utilities serving 11.5 million consumers exceed EPA lead standards!

And, get this: More than a half-million U.S. kids under the age of six are suffering right now from lead poisoning.

Lead poisoning can cause permanent brain damage — damage that sometimes doesn’t show up until later in life, often in the form of learning disabilities and behavioral issues, including criminal behavior that impacts us all.

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What About Radon?

Radon naturally occurs when elements, such as uranium in soil and rock, break down. It’s harmless…until it isn’t. Low levels pose no danger, but when those levels rise, radon becomes a carcinogen, and is the second leading cause of lung cancer.

Levels are most likely to become dangerous in poorly circulated home basements located in geographic regions where radon is more likely to form.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

There’s several things you can easily do, and your local REALTORS® are here to help:

  • Run the tap before using water and remember, boiling water is not goint ot eliminate lead. In fact, it can actually increase lead concentration.
  • If you’re concerned that your children may have been exposed to lead, you can ask to have them tested at your peditricans.
  • Learn more about your local water source and any contaminents that may be present by looking up your Water District’s “Right to Know” report online.
  • Hire an EPA approved inspector to test your home for lead in paint, the water, and for radon.
  • Replace any lead pipes and fixtures, and install a water filtration system designed specifically for lead.
  • Install fans and ventilation systems if radon is found.

And last, but not least, when you’re shopping for a home, you can rely on a local REALTOR® to help you find one that will be safe from these dangers. That’s because REALTORS® require sellers and landlords to provide both lead paint and radon disclosures containing valuable information. Ask your REALTOR® about other ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from the risks of lead and radon.

It’s one of many ways REALTORS® are helping to protect you, your home, and the American Dream!

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