Are there potentially harmful building materials in my older home?

Apr 19, 2023


Owning an older home can be a charming experience, with its unique architecture, vintage details, and classic charm. However, along with that charm, comes the potential for harmful building materials that were commonly used in the past. Asbestos, lead, formaldehyde, and mold are some of the building materials that can be found in older homes, and they can cause serious health problems. It’s important to be aware of these materials and to take the necessary steps to ensure that your home is safe for you and your family.

These materials can cause health problems, especially if they are not properly maintained or removed.

Asbestos was widely used in residential construction until the 1970s and was valued for its heat resistance and durability. However, asbestos fibers can become airborne when disturbed and when inhaled, can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis. Asbestos-containing materials, such as insulation, roofing, and flooring, should be removed by a licensed asbestos abatement professional.


Lead-based paint was commonly used in homes until 1978 when it was banned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Lead exposure is particularly harmful to young children and can cause developmental delays, learning disabilities, and other health problems. If you suspect that your home has lead-based paint, it’s best to have it tested by a professional and removed if necessary.


Formaldehyde is a colorless gas that is commonly found in building materials such as insulation, particleboard, and plywood. It can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, as well as respiratory problems. To reduce formaldehyde exposure, it’s important to ensure that there is adequate ventilation and air exchange in your home.


Mold is a type of fungus that can grow in damp or poorly ventilated areas, such as basements, bathrooms, and kitchens. Exposure to mold can cause respiratory problems, allergies, and other health problems. To prevent mold growth, it’s important to address any moisture issues in your home, such as leaks or high humidity levels.


If you suspect that your older home may contain any of these potentially harmful building materials, it’s important to engage an industry professional to assess the situation and recommend the appropriate action. Asbestos and lead removal should only be done by licensed professionals, and proper ventilation and moisture control can help prevent the growth of mold and reduce formaldehyde exposure.


If you own an older home or are considering purchasing one, it’s important to have it inspected for any potentially harmful building materials. Asbestos, lead, formaldehyde, and mold are just a few of the materials that can be found in older homes and can cause serious health problems. By engaging industry professionals and taking the appropriate action, you can ensure that your home is safe and healthy for you and your family. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the health of your loved ones, so don’t hesitate to take action if you suspect that your home may contain any of these harmful materials.