Monday, April 29, 2013

Continuing Education - Environmental Issues

On the 23rd, I took another course:  Environmental Issues with Steve Selig.  His class was contact-packed - I took five pages of notes and we rolled through short breaks and lunch, frankly, I thought, eager to get back to learning what he had to teach.  A complex person - attorney, environmental activist, home inspector and remediation expert, knowledgeable in what seemed like everything related to the environment.

The areas he covered were mold, radon, carbon monoxide, water, buried oil tanks,lead, asbestos, and septic systems.  The most amount of time was spent on mold - what it is, what the dangers are, and why it's become a leading concern in the real estate field, both with new construction and resale.  The short video he played was terrifying.  A family had neurological damage from living in a house - huge and expensive - that would never be able to be re-habbed.  The brain damage in the father and son was permanent also.

Very simply put, mold grows where the humidity is above 70%.  Companies that test for mold must put it under the microscope - you can't tell just by looking at it.  If the mold in the house is confined to under a 10 square foot area, then the homeowner can clean it.  If it is about 100 sf then it is considered a "biohazard" and must have mitigation from certified and licensed remediation specialists.

Carbon monoxide poisoning sends 20,000 people to the ER every year.  Of these, 500 die of it.  Keep everything that generates CO away from the house - meaning generators and yes, the family car.  Starting a car in the garage or even the driveway and leaving it running is not a good idea.

Buried oil tanks have a 16 year life span.  In Massachusetts, all buried oil tanks must come out of the ground.  Even if the tank is no longer filled or used, it should come out of the ground within a year to keep it from possibly polluting the soil.

Lead.  The #1 source of lead pollution in the U.S. is batteries in landfills.  Steve went over the guidelines for painting and remodeling when lead is present.

There is no simple test for asbestos.  It's been known to be a problem since 1884 - but not until the 1920s was it acknowledged.  It is actually a mineral - very strong, impervious and excellent for strengthening building materials.

Septic systems need to be pumped every one to five years.  The average life of the system is 20 years.  If you sell a home in Massachusetts, you must bring the septic system into code for that year.

Fascinating - all of it.  I made notes to tell Bob some of the things we need to do around our house, including putting a CO detector in the apartment for when Rachel and Alex come to visit. We also need to pull our old buried oil tank now that we've stopped using it...I've known that, but now it's a priority.  Continuing ed - thank you!  I learn a lot for my business, and also for myself.