SPRINGFIELD IL – Folks at the American Lung Association last week (Feb. 12, 2004) sounded almost envious, and maybe a little bit wistful, over all the publicity generated by fears about mold growth in real estate. Second-hand tobacco smoke, one of its consultants claimed, should be – but isn’t – a bigger deal in the media.
“Hard data linking human exposure to mold with serious health risks just isn’t there. Still, mold gets all the attention,” says Stephen R. Klossner, a Minnesota building consultant who works on the association’s Health House program. The Health House is an indoor air quality research and demonstration project in Springfield IL, launched in 1993.
A New York Times article published Feb. 8 set the association grumbling. Its story titled “On Tobacco Road, It’s A Tougher Sell,” in the Sunday edition’s Real Estate section, reviewed difficulties brokers have in finding buyers for homes and condominiums that smell strongly of tobacco smoke. “The number of … buyers who are even willing to consider a house with smoking in its past” is shrinking, The Times reported.
“Potential home buyers may not always be able to articulate exactly what a ‘healthy’ house is, but they know an unhealthy environment when they smell it,” Angie Lien, Health House national director, says. She believes increased public awareness of indoor air problems marks “the beginnings of a class of better informed, health-conscious home buyers.”