Cheryl Nightingale
Realtor, CBR
Monarch Realty Group
Pocasset Village
Bourne, MA 02559

Phone: 508-594-5900
Cell Phone: 508-930-5821
Fax: 508-356-3252

Privacy Policy
Mold a Mounting Concern for Homeowners, Builders
Although the Center for Disease Control says that a link between stachybotrys and more serious symptoms like memory loss or coughing up blood can't be confirmed, several juries across the country have awarded homeowners millions of dollars in connection with mold-contaminated homes and serious health problems, prompting concern among homeowners and homebuilders alike.

The source of concern centers on stachybotrys, a toxic mold that grows in moist environments and has been found in all 50 states.

While most varieties of mold aren't dangerous, too much exposure to stachybotrys can trigger asthma or hay fever -- at least in some people. When inhaled or ingested, stachybotrys can cause nasal and sinus congestion, coughing, wheezing, sore throat, skin and eye irritation, and upper respiratory infections.

If you identify problems with a house you are thinking about buying or renting, make sure the seller or landlord correct them before you move in. Or, you may want to consider starting from square one and revive your search efforts for a different house.

To stay on the safe side, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission offers these tips when shopping for an existing house.

Hire a professional to check the heating and cooling system, including humidifiers and vents. Check duct lining and insulation for growth.

Check for exhaust fans in the bathrooms and kitchen. If there are no vents, the kitchen and bathrooms should each have at least one window. The cooktop should have a hood vented outside. The clothes dryer vent should be outside. All vents should lead outdoors rather than to attics or crawlspaces.

Look for obvious mold growth in attics, basements, and crawlspaces, and around the foundation. See if there are many plants close to the house, particularly if they are damp and rotting - they are a potential source of biological pollutants. Downspouts from roof gutters should route water away from the building.

Look for stains on the walls, floor or carpet (including any carpet over concrete floors) as evidence of previous flooding or moisture problems. Is there moisture on windows and surfaces? Are there signs of leaks or seepage in the basement?

Look for rotted building materials. They may suggest moisture or water damage.
Even if mold hasn't developed, moisture problems can lead to dry rot, which can potentially cause structural damage to your home. And most insurance companies don't cover mold damage, which is considered a home maintenance problem, according to

If you find mold in your home, the Insurance Information Institute says it can be cleaned before heavy damage sets in. The most effective way is to correct the underlying water damage and then clean the affected area.

A solution of household bleach and water (1 part bleach, 10 parts water), combined with a bit of dish soap usually does the trick. Be sure to wear a mask and rubber gloves and open windows. Apply the mix to the moldy area, scrub with a rag and then dispose of the rag. If the mold returns, you'll need to investigate whether you have a leak. If the contamination is extensive, you may need to consult a mold abatement specialist.

Test Your Home for Radon
Radon is an invisible, odorless gas that is the second leading cause of lung cancer. A simple test can tell you if you have elevated radon levels in your home. Do-it-yourself short-term (3-7 day) radon test kits are sold at hardware stores and some departments of health and are also available from the National Safety Council at Most are less than $15 and include laboratory analysis with the upfront cost.
Testing your home is simple, but it is important to closely follow the manufacturer's instructions. Your test results will be sent to you after you mail in your sample and the lab processes your kit.
EPA has important information on how to test and fix your home if you have elevated levels of radon, at
If you are building a house, you can make your home less likely to have dangerous radon levels from the start. American Lung Association Health House guidelines recommend using EPA's guidance to build radon resistant houses, at

Septic Systems
If your septic tank failed, or you know someone whose did, you are not alone. As a homeowner, you are responsible for maintaining your septic system. Proper septic system maintenance will help keep your system from failing and will help maintain your investment in your home. Failing septic systems can contaminate the ground water that you or your neighbors drink and can pollute nearby rivers, lakes and coastal waters.
Here are ten simple steps you can take to keep your septic system working properly.
Locate your septic tank and drain field. Keep a drawing of these locations in your records.
Have your septic system inspected at least every three years.
Pump your septic tank as needed (generally every three to five years).
Don't dispose of household hazardous wastes in sinks or toilets.
Keep other household items, such as dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms, diapers, and cat litter out of your system.
Use water efficiently.
Plant only grass over and near your septic system. Roots from nearby trees or shrubs might clog and damage the system. Also, do not apply manure or fertilizers over the drainfield.
Keep vehicles and livestock off your septic system. The weight can damage the pipes and tank, and your system may not drain properly under compacted soil.
Keep gutters and basement sump pumps from draining into or near your septic system.
Check with your local health department before using additives. Commercial septic tank additives do not eliminate the need for periodic pumping and can be harmful to your system.
Generally, EPA does not regulate septic systems, however, state and local governments do regulate the use of these systems. Where You Live provides links to state and local septic septic system requirements.
For more information, download these helpful publications.

Homeowner's Guide to Septic Systems - Booklet that describes how a septic system works and what homeowners can do to help their systems treat wastewater effectively (EPA 832-B-02-005).
Date Published: 02/01/2003
Homeowner's Guide to Septic Systems [PDF, 16 pp., 2,129KB]

Homeowner's Guide to Septic Systems - Short Version - Short brochure that describes how a septic system works and what homeowners can do to help their system treat wastewater effectively (EPA 832-B-02-006).
Date Published: 02/01/2003
Homeowner's Guide to Septic Systems - Short Version [PDF, 2 pp., 758KB]

Homeowner Septic System Checklist - Worksheet that allows homeowners to keep track of septic system inspections and maintenance. This checklist is included in the booklet below or may be used separately (EPA 832-F-03-006).
Date Published: 02/01/2003
Homeowner Septic System Checklist [PDF, 1 pp., 293KB]


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