1) Get your water tested.
Depending on the type of structure and locale you live in, you may be at risk to hard water plumbing. Generally speaking, hard water is water with high concentrations of various minerals, such as magnesium and calcium. This is problematic because hard water has been associated with a number of long-term health problems, including: cardiovascular disease, stunted growth, reproductive problems, renal dysfunction, diabetes, neural disease, and more.
The good news is that there are a variety of home testing kits available on the market that you can purchase in order to test your water at home. However, make sure to be weary of any testing service that is run by a company who also sells water-softening services, as these are often unreliable and biased in order to manipulate customers into making unnecessary purchases. Instead, purchase a third party kit yourself and research whether or not your results are within the range of normal.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways that water from your home plumbing system can be softened, and a premises liability lawyer in Tacoma may be able to help you hold your landlord accountable for the costs of such services.
2) Search for black mold.
Another of the environmental dangers to watch out for is black mold. Black mold can mean a wide range of health problems for anyone exposed to it. These can range from the moderate—including nausea, vomiting, persistent headaches, irritation to the eyes, wheezing—to the severe—bleeding in the lungs and nose, chronic fatigue, chronic coughing and sneezing, etc. Fortunately, a building can easily be tested for black mold with a simple kit available at most hardware stores. If black mold is in fact present in your workplace, rented home, or recently acquired property it is vital that you contact a local premises liability lawyer (such as the experts at Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel) about your options immediately.
3) Inspect for parasitic insect infestations.
Everyone hears the horror stories: lice, scabies, bed bugs, fleas, crabs. Despite the differing levels of social stigma and alarm these separate types of creatures inspire, they are actually all very similar in that they each involve hordes of barely (if at all) visible insects that survive from eating and/or laying eggs inside human flesh.
Each of these will require some differing degree of washing and quarantining the people, pets, and cloth items in your home that these creatures will inevitably be attracted to. Lice and crabs (also known as pubic lice) are blood parasites that lay their ring-shaped eggs around human hair follicles so that they’re very difficult to remove (usually requiring shaving or using pesticide shampoos.) They tend to have an incubation period of a couple weeks, so you’d be safest to stop quarantining your things after a month. Lice and crabs (as well as fleas and bed bugs) are visible to the human eye. One uniquely identifying quality of fleas is their ability to jump relatively long distances, and their attraction to pets and pet dander. Bed bugs can best be identified along the seams of mattresses or other fabric (though they can also sometimes live in wood as well), and tend to leave bites on humans in groups of two or three. Bed bugs are the most resilient of parasites, and can survive up to two years in a vacuum-sealed environment with little oxygen and no food source (they usually must be killed using a combination of poisons and extreme heat or refrigeration.) Fortunately, scabies are not quite as adaptable and are most vulnerable to a treatment regimen consisting of insecticide skin creme or orally ingestible pills. Unfortunately, scabies are not visible to the human eye and burrow beneath the skin to lay their eggs—which begin to hatch and cause considerable itching and irritation after their three-week incubation period.
Oftentimes, landlords are required to treat major tenant infestations like bedbugs, especially if there is evidence of the insects being a recurring problem for the building. A local Tacoma attorney at EPIC can let you know exactly what rights tenants (or employees) are entitled to in the case of such an infestation.
4) Ensure that any landlords or superintendents keep the premises safe from potential accidents.
It is a landlord or superintendent’s responsibility to make sure that the properties they are responsible for are completely safe. For example, this means that: stairs and sidewalks must be regularly salted during cold weather, any electrical hazards should be immediately dealt with, and broken structural features such as stairs, floors, broken doors or railings must be fixed as soon as they occur and marked with adequately visible warning signs.
5) Check your rental or purchase agreement about hazardous chemicals.
In many states (including Washington), it is necessary for landlords, employers and business owners to clearly notify those who occupy their space if they are being exposed to any kind of hazardous chemicals. Oftentimes, signs will indicate such hazards with messages along the lines of: “This building contains harmful chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects according to the State of Washington.” However, not all hazardous toxins are necessarily covered by these kinds of statutes and many do not legally require premises owners to use signage. To see if your home contains lead paint, asbestos, or other hazardous materials, check your rental agreement. If you suspect that your workplace might contain such dangers, ask your employer for building information. From there, you would be well advised to contact a local Tacoma premises liability attorney right away to discuss your options.
As always, the experts at EPIC are always available as a resource to you.