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Hazards to Look For When Buying a Home

There are several hazards that you need to be aware of when buying a home, especially an older home.

Potential Hazards in a Home

When buying or selling a home there are certain hazards that you should be aware of, especially when purchasing older homes.


Lead is a toxic metal used in the construction of many home products before 1978. The two most common sources of lead found in the home are paint and pipes. Health problems can occur (particularly in children under the age of twelve) if lead is eaten or the dust is inhaled. Because of these dangers, as part of a real estate contract the seller must disclose any known information on the presence of lead based paints. Lead based paint was banned in the U.S. for residential use in 1978, but is still widely used in commercial and military applications.


Up until 1989, asbestos was used in many home building materials, including flooring tiles, roof tiles, insulation, and drywall compound. While undisturbed, asbestos provides little risk to the homeowner, problems occur when it is disturbed. When disturbed asbestos produces dust, which when inhaled increases the risk of asbestosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other forms of cancer. Because of this, homeowners should always take care when renovating older homes.


Radon is a colorless and odorless gas that seeps into the home from the ground. Prolonged exposure to high levels of Radon can cause lung cancer. Since you cannot see or smell radon, the only way to tell if is present, is to perform a test. You can order a kit to perform the test; alternately, a home inspection company or other qualified radon tester can perform the test. If high levels of radon are present in the home, several methods can be used to reduce the levels. The most common method involves drawing the radon from underneath the home up through a vent. Unlike Asbestos and Lead, it is more common for high levels of Radon to exist in newer homes. This is because new homes are far more air tight, than older homes, so Radon does not have a chance to escape.