Most clients are concerned about the possible presence of asbestos, lead or mold in the home they are purchasing. A tremendous amount of information is always available at the EPA website.
ASBESTOS: while any material suspected of containing asbestos (ex: heating pipe insulation, textured ceilings, floor tiles, attic insulation, etc) would be reported, only a certified lab can confirm asbestos fibers. Until confirmed, EPA suggests considering all suspect material as if it does contain asbestos, and leave undisturbed. Asbestos is considered safe if not damaged and left undisturbed. Removal of damaged material should be discussed only with a qualified professional.
LEAD: the presence of lead (ex: in paint coverings) can be confirmed by a certified lead inspector. New England has a high percentage of homes (because of our long history) that may contain lead in paint coverings and some plumbing pipes (lead in paint was discontinued in 1978, and in pipe solder in 1986). EPA suggests regular damp mopping and wiping of surfaces to avoid possible ingestion. If desired, removal should be discussed only with qualified professional.
MOLD: mold is present everywhere, including inside every home. Mold fungi break down organic matter and are responsible for sustaining life as we know it. However, the presence of mold inside a home indicates conditions that should be improved. Typically, that means correction of moisture getting into a home. Proper grading around the home site, sealing of foundation cracks, repair of leaking plumbing, adding gutters and improving ventilation are all possible corrective actions that can be discussed with qualified contractor. EPA states that most healthy adults are not affected by mold, although some people with respiratory difficulties face serious discomfort. Regardless, protecting the structure of your home from damaging moisture should be a priority.