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Indoor Air Quality Testing:
The Whole House Health Package

Nothing is more vital to the health of your home and family than good air quality. Most home owners take for granted that their house is well ventilated and free of toxins. But the sources of interior air pollution are many, varied, and sometimes subtle. These include:

It's worth noting that in the last 50 years, we have introduced more than 80,000 new chemicals into our environment -- and a lot of those are in our homes right now. I stayed in a new house recently and, by the second day, I was feeling dizzy and a little sick from all the "new" smells -- paint, carpet, caulk, glues, adhesives, etc. And that's just the obvious stuff. The not-so-obvious stuff starts with the basics of ventilation: is my home getting the air it needs to breathe well and evacuate all the toxins that I myself create as I live in the house? Our own respiration creates a tremendous amount of moisture, heat, and carbon dioxide, for example. Add to that the heat and dangerous carbon monoxide from cooking, and the off-gassing of our building products, and the many chemicals we have in the home, including air fresheners, -- the result is a daily stew of pollution that may or may not compromise our health.

If you are suffering from asthma or breathing and sinus problems, either mild or chronic signs of allergies, such as itchy eyes or a runny nose, frequent headaches, and/or fatigue or low energy, you probably have poor indoor air quality.


The Whole House Health Package combines the basic (visual) mold examnination with a second thorough inspection of the following:
  1. Ventilation: is your house getting the air it needs to breathe properly (so that you can breathe properly)?
  2. Insulation: is your home protected in all of the places it needs protection from hot, moist air and cold, dry air?
  3. Moisture: is there excessive moisture in your home and the presence of mold?
  4. HVAC: are your heating and cooling systems doing what they're supposed to be doing?
  5. Pollutants: what natural and man-made pollutants are you living with? You'll be surprised to learn how many there are.

Whole House Health report itemizes all of your house's strengths and weaknesses with regard to Indoor Air Quality, then offers an extensive list of recommendations for improving the air quality in your home. Most of these imporvements you can make yourself -- you won't need to hire a contractor. Other suggested improvements may require professional assistance but, chances are, none of these improvements will be especially time-senstive. (An exception would be the presence of mold, which would need abatement as soon as possible.)

It is a rare house that does not need to improve its indoor air quality. So, chances are, an IAQ examination of your home will be well worth the relatively small cost of this very thorough inspection.

WHole House Heatlh IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) Exam for houses 3500 square feet or less: $475.
Whole House Health IAQ Exam for houses 3700 square feet or more: $575


NOTE: If you customize your Whole House Health inspection by adding other services, such as Radon Testing and Lead Testing, you will get a $25 discount on each additional service.

Limits of Inspection

In accordance with professional standards, I am not allowed to enter any areas that may be hazardous; this includes walking on a roof or entering a crawlspace that may be dangerous. I am not allowed to turn on anything that has been turned off (like a water spigot) or moving objects or belongings that are blocking access to inspection areas (this is a liability issue).

This inspection is a non-invasive examination of your property -- of all visible, readily accessible, and installed systems and components of a building that have to do with air quality (see list above). There will be no drilling or dismantling or removal of materials in your home.

An indoor air quality examination is an inspection only. It is not an abatement, repair, or improvement of any issues that may be found. The IAQ report points to areas or conditions that you may or may not address in your own time. Although air quality is linked to many health issues, I am not a phsycian who is licensed to make determinations about your health. I can only make suggestions and recommendations based on my own experience and published reports.

Radon Detection

Radon is an invisible and odorless radioactive gas that occurs naturally from decaying uranium underneath the earth's suface. This gas rises through the soil and seeps through cracks, holes, and drain pipes in the foundation or basements of buildings. Radon causes cancer. Typically it affects humans as a gas but it can also be found in water.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 1 out of every 15 homes in the United States has high levels of radon gas. Radon can be found all over the country. Both the EPA and HUD recommend that, if you are about to buy a home, you should have that home tested for radon. Even if you've lived in your home for many years, having a radon test is an inexpensive way to get peace of mind. I know someone who lived in a house for ten years that had six times the acceptable level of radon, but she didn't learn this until she put her house up for sale. Some years later she got breast cancer and wondered if living with radon had brought it on. As she said, "It couldn't have helped." (Her cancer is in remission, thankfully.)

Basic radon test starts with two samples that are sent to the lab: $125
Additional sampling tests: $60 each.

NOTE: testing takes 48 hours; and lab processing takes another 48 hours

Limits of Inspection

In accordance with professional standards, I am not allowed to enter any areas that may be hazardous; this includes walking on a roof or entering a crawlspace that may be dangerous. I am not allowed to turn on anything that has been turned off (like a water spigot) or moving objects or belongings that are blocking access to inspection areas (this is a liability issue).

This inspection is a non-invasive examination of your property. There will be no drilling or dismantling or removal of materials in your home. Testing typically occurs in the basement of the house. Testing cartridges must remain in place and untouched for 48 hours. If these cartridges are removed or otherwise tampered with, the cartridges must be replaced -- at the home owner's expense.

A radon detection test is an inspection only. It is not an abatement, repair, or improvement of any issue that may be found. The report will tell you if you have unacceptable levels of radon in a particular part of your house. The test is specific only to the area of the house that has been tested. Although radon has been proven to cause cancer and other health issues, I am not a phsycian who is licensed to make determinations about your health.

NOTE: If the radon level in your house is 4.0 pCi/L or higher you should perform either a long-term test or a second short-term test. If the radon level is higher than 10 pCi/L you should perform a second short-term test immediately. You should also consider having your water tested for radon.

Lead Detection

A single chip of lead paint -- no larger than a postage stamp -- can contaminate a room to dangerous levels if that paint chip is ground up and airborne. Lead is a danger, in other words, when it is dust and can be inhaled or ingested (this includes drinking). Lead paint was outlawed in houses in 1978. But old supplies continued to be used in households across the nation for years -- well into the 1980s. What this means is that any house built before 1980 very likely has lead paint in it. About 38 million houses in the U.S. are contaminated with lead.

Lead poisoning has non-specific symptoms. You might feel like you have the flu, at first. As the case grows more severe, you may have chronic headaches, memory loss, even bleeding gums. Usually, adults can recover from lead poisoning, if caught in time. Children cannot. Children under six are most vulnerable. Every year, over 300,000 American children are found to have elevated levels of lead in their bodies. But the Center for Disease Control estimates that over 4 million households are exposing children to dangerously high levels of lead.

In short, a simple lead test of your home could save you much worry, expense, and heartache.

You can do the lead testing yourself with a DIY kit from a hardware store. Most of these are very basic and simply tell you whether or not the paint you are testing has lead in it. These tests don't tell you how much lead and they may not be able to test multiple layers of paint. The test I offer is EPA approved and will give some indication of the intensity of the lead. The advantage of hiring me to do your lead testing isn't the test itself but, rather, the fact that I am certified in lead safety regulations (RRP). This means that you have expert evidence if you are compelled,for some reason, to prove that there is or was lead paint in your house. A lead text examination is easily packaged with a home inspection.

A lead detection examination involves the following:
Abatement of lead paint does not have to be complicated. At its simplest, abatement involves containing the paint by covering it up and keeping it covered up with a topcoat of safe paint. Remediation involves stripping paint from areas, like doors and windows, where the paint is being ground up. This must be done to EPA standards if there is a child or pregnant woman in the home. If there is no child or pregnant woman in the home, then you could do the remediation yourself pretty much anyway you see fit.

Cost of lead paint detection and report: $125.

Limits of Inspection

In accordance with professional standards, I am not allowed to enter any areas that may be hazardous; this includes walking on a roof or entering a crawlspace that may be dangerous. I am not allowed to turn on anything that has been turned off (like a water spigot) or moving objects or belongings that are blocking access to inspection areas (this is a liability issue).

This inspection is invasive. It involves making small cuts into painted surfaces. The testing agent may discolor these areas. It will be left to you to repair these marks.

A lead detection examination is an inspection only. It is not an abatement, repair, or improvement of any issue that may be found. Although lead has been proven to cause severe health issues, I am not a phsycian who is licensed to make determinations about your health. If the examination finds lead in your house, it is solely your responsibility to abate or remediate it.

Water Testing

The EPA cites two situations that may compel you to test your water: 1) you suspect lead is in your water, or 2) you want to get a filter system to treat your water. In the second case, you should know what's in your water before you buy a system to filter it. That way, you can buy a system that addresses your filtering needs. Old houses are likely to have lead in their plumbing pipes, from the pipes themselves, from the pipe solder, or from some other intrusion. But even new pipes contain about 8% lead. So, the question is, Does your water have any of that?

A third reason to test your water is to check for such contaminants as coliform bacteria, like e-coli; nitrates (from fertilizers); volatile organic compounds (from gas refineries, paint, etc.); heavy metals (in addition to lead), like mercury, and so on. We can test for dozens and dozens of contaminants in water but, generally, we need only test for a) lead, b) coliform bacteria, c) chlorine, d) iron, e) copper, and f) acidity.

Why test for chlorine? Research shows that when chlorine combines with organic matter (leaves, bacteria, algae, etc.), it can form Trihalomethanes (THM's) and /or Haloacetic Acids (HAA5). Long-term exposure to these "Disinfection By-Products" has been shown to increase the risk for certain cancers. The most common complaint about chlorine in drinking water is its taste and odor. This can easily and completely be removed by activated carbon before consumption. Point-of use, (POU) removal of chlorine is recommended as both safe and effective. Currently, the benefit of using chlorine as a disinfectant far outweighs the known negatives.

I offer a testing package designed either for well water or municipal water. Both offer broad-spectrum results.
Well Water Testing: $165
Municipal Water Testing: $165

Water testing includes an examination of your plumbing (where it is accessible) and suggestions for water purification systems. Unless you have exceptionally clean water (and nobody does), I will recommend extra filtering. Why? Baltimore City water, for example, notes that there's a "statewide waiver" for levels of Dioxin in our water. That seems to mean that this known carcinogen may appear at any level -- or some undisclosed level -- in our water supply. Benzene -- a by product of gas storage facilities and landfills -- is present at a level of .5 parts per million in the city water supply. Its maximum allowable level is 5 parts per million. I'd rather not have any benzene in my water. That's why my wife and I drink and cook with mostly distilled, charcoal-filtered water.

Limits of Inspection

In accordance with professional standards, I am not allowed to enter any areas that may be hazardous; this includes walking on a roof or entering a crawlspace that may be dangerous. I am not allowed to turn on anything that has been turned off (like a water spigot) -- you will have to do that. Nor am I allowed to move objects or belongings that are blocking access to inspection areas (this is a liability issue).

A water quality test is a test only. It is not an abatement, repair, or improvement of any issue that may be found relating to your water or its supply. Although unclean water has been proven to cause severe health issues, I am not a phsycian who is licensed to make determinations about your health. If the examination finds lead in your house, it is solely your responsibility to abate or remediate it.

Soil Testing

If you are going to plant edibles in your yard or allow children and pets to play in your yard, you should test the soil for lead. A braod-spectrum test, which I offer, will also tell you the PH balance of your soil, as well as the major nutrients your soil contains. This will be valuable information for ammending and improving your soil, no matter what you may plant.

One-spot broad-spectrum soil test: $60
Two-spot broad-spectrum test: $85
Three-spot broad-spectrum test: $125

Your test results will include written recommendations on soil improvement.

Limits of Inspection

A soil test is a test only. It is not an abatement or improvement of any issue that may be found in your soil. The test reveals only the condition of the soil where the test sample was taken. It does not represent your entire yard. That's why multiple tests are recommended.





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