Environmental Property Issues

Despite the old saying “what you see is what you get”, that is note always the case. When purchasing a property, there are issues to be aware of. Do some research on your property to be aware of any environmental property issues, liabilities, or concerns that are present for the property. Not only that, check the surrounding areas as well.

There are specific items that you should look for when exploring environmental property issues. This can include:

  • Known contaminated properties in the area
  • Cases of lead or radon poisoning
  • Registered underground tanks
  • Property owners who have been fined by the government. This is specifically for failing to meet environmental safety standards

Begin your investigation by asking your agent for information. You can also contact the regional or municipal relevant environmental or government agency. Environmental issues, including those environmental property issues, should be available to the general public.

Environmental Property Issues Present Potential Health Hazards

It is important to be aware of potential environmental property issues due to the potential negative health hazards that they can present. The last thing you want is to purchase a property that can impact your health in a negative way or the health of those residing within the building.

Lead Poisoning

It is a good rule of thumb to be aware of any environmental property issues when buying, selling, or even owning and living in a home. Those hazards should be known even in the surrounding areas as they can have an impact on your home or property.

Lead poisoning are one of the biggest environmental property issues. It can be quite serious and is still often overlooked. Generally, houses or buildings constructed before 1978 likely contain lead-based paint and/or have plumbing piping containing lead. Lead can also be present in the environment in areas that are heavily exposed to vehicle emissions.

Lead exposure can be difficult to pinpoint. That makes it more difficult to not only control, but to prevent. The Canadian government has put guidelines in place to protect homebuyers from environmental property issues.

Law requires that anyone selling a home known to present lead-based paint hazards must disclose that information to any interested buyer. The contract of sale for these properties must also include a government from regarding lead-based paint. They also need to give the buyer up to 10 days to check for any hazards that may be associated with the presence of lead. The buyer can also stipulate that any necessary actions be taken by the seller before the completion of the sale.

Overlooking lead can have serious health effects. Lead poisoning can cause brain damage and nervous system problems in children. Those can result in both learning and behaviorial disabilities, hearing problems, and student growth.

In adults, health concerns can range from high blood pressure to nerve disorders and reproductive issues. Muscle and joint pain, hindered brain function, and digestive issues are common as well.


This is a naturally occurring health hazard that could be present on your home or property without you knowing. Radon is an odourless and colourless radioactive gas. It is produced when small amounts of uranium and radium that is in rocks and soil decays.

Naturally released in lower concentrations, it can become more concentrated in a home due to lack of ventilation. That gas can decay even further, become particles small enough that they can be inhaled into the lungs. This can cause damage to the cells, even leading to lung cancer in some cases.

If Radon is a concern, have your home tested or ask the seller for their radon test results. Sellers should test for radon and take appropriate action if necessary. This should all be done before making the sale, too.

Thankfully, there are various radon testing devices available:

  • Passive Device – A passive device is exposed to the air in the home. It is done for a certain period of time and then sent to the lab for analytics. Passive devices can include alpha track detectors, charcoal canisters, and charcoal liquid scintillation.
  • Active Device – These are the kind of devices that constantly measure and record radon levels in a home. This type of device is over a short or long period of time, though longer tests tend to be more accurate. Active devices include continuous working level monitors and radon monitors. Let a trained professional do this kind of testing.

Underground Heating Oil Tanks Present Potential Environmental Property Issues

If a property has an underground heating oil tank, be aware of the potential hazards that they present. Should they leak, they can cause many environmental issues like contamination of ground water and soil. Leaks can be cause by things like rust or sparked utility lines, among other things.

As a potential buyer, have the tank inspected. This is to ensure that it is structurally sound. You can opt to have the tank shut off and contained before you have another tank installed. This can also be written into the sales contract as a condition of sale.

If you are the seller of the property, have your lawyer ensure that the condition and description are up-to-date and accurate. If you agree to the buyer’s conditions about the tank, make sure that the sales contract reflects the transaction.

Never let environmental property issues plague the buying or selling process. Do your research, cover your bases, and everything should end up going just as smoothly as if there were no issues to speak of.

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