Mold problems can only develop in a home where a moisture problem exists or has existed in the past. Moisture comes from condensation, humidity or water intrusion such as leaks, spills or flooding. Mold digests the organic matter it is growing on and only requires 24 to 48 hours of dampness to grow. Once formed the spores of mold can be released into the air and spread to create new colonies. Not all species of mold are toxic but as many as 15 species are known to be toxic to humans and animals. Molds which are not toxic when ingested can still give allergy symptoms which continue to worsen with exposure. In most cases if visible mold is found then sampling should be performed after it has been cleaned or remediated. This will determine if the cleanup was successful. Testing the air could also determine if mold is growing in hidden areas such as duct work, behind moldings, walls or ceilings. If mold is a concern of yours then have your home tested by Certified Home Inspections which uses only laboratory sampling techniques with results usually within 2-3 days.
Most homes built prior to 1978 have paint which contains high levels of lead. Lead from paint chips and dust can pose serious health concerns when not handled properly. Lead poisoning can harm young children even before they are born. Lead can be released into the air by operating old windows and doors with layers of old paint. If you think your home may have lead based paint you should have it tested for safety as well as peace of mind.
Asbestos has been used in building materials and other products for years. Exposure (long term) has become a serious health concern and is known to lead to cancer. Opinions vary on what to do when asbestos containing materials (ACM) are found however one thing is for sure if ingested you are at risk. Asbestos is a mineral fiber that occurs in soil and rock. Because of its fiber strength and fire retardant properties it has been used widely in the manufacturer of building materials such as flooring, insulation etc. Friable asbestos usually occurs when disturbed by removing improperly which releases fibers into the air. To detect if fibers are present testing could be performed. Certified home inspectors will gather air samples and process them at a EPA certified laboratory with results usually within 2-3 days.
Radon is a cancer causing radioactive gas that you cannot see, smell or taste. Radon comes from the natural break down of uranium in soil, rock and water and enters the air we breathe. Radon is known to enter the home through tiny cracks or pores in the foundation of basement floor and becomes trapped in the home where its levels can build. The only way to determine the level of radon in a home is to have it tested.
For more information on these environmental issues: www.epa.gov