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Environmental Protection Agency

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Although older homes have a distinct rustic charm to them, they’re not without their drawbacks. They tend to be inefficient when it comes to utilities, and the need for regular maintenance is huge compared to modern homes. More importantly though, living in an older home can often be bad for your health. Here are three common health hazards that are found in older homes.

Mold

House Wall Drops Damp Window Rain Water Glass

Source: Max Pixel

It may not be the most serious health hazard you can find in a home, but mold is still worth paying attention to all the same. Damp, indoor surfaces, such as walls, carpets and hard floors, provide ideal conditions for mold spores to settle and begin to spread. These are invisible to the naked eye, but float on the air around us wherever the conditions are right. Any building is at some risk of developing mold, but older homes, particularly in humid areas, are much more prone to it as they tend to have poorer sealing, and fail to keep out condensation. Enough mold has the potential to cause respiratory issues, and will aggravate asthma. Allergic reactions to it are also fairly common. If you find any mold in your home, try to get rid of whatever moisture source is causing it. You can read more at Removemoldguide.com.

Asbestos

Mold can be the source of some serious health issues, but they’re all fairly benign compared to the damage asbestos can do. Asbestos is a subsection of natural minerals. Due to its strength and fire-proof properties, it has been used in countless construction projects over the past century, as a reagent of roof shingles, insulation, concrete, and various other products. Though it’s now banned as a construction material, there are still many buildings in the developed world which contain asbestos. The material is only a threat if it becomes loose, and the invisible fibers enter the air. If these are breathed in, they can become lodged in the lungs, scarring the tissues, and increasing the risk of cancers like mesothelioma, especially in a person who smokes. You can read more about his at Mesotheliomahelp.org. If you don’t know when your home was last swept for asbestos, or you’re considering buying an older house, it’s worth hiring a qualified inspector for a risk assessment.

Lead Paint

lead-paint

Source: Flickr

This is another toxic material that was commonly used in buildings for decades. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, any American home built before 1978 has a fair chance of having some lead-based paint in it. In its solid form, lead paint is fairly harmless unless ingested, and in many cases the interior paint would have been coated over many times with latex-based paint. The biggest risk is exterior paint flaking off over time and falling into the garden, where it may be ingested by pets or young children. They can also get into vegetable patches and contaminate the food growing there. If your exterior siding has lead-based paint on it, it’s generally a good idea to remove it completely.

 

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According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), VW cars with bigger diesel engines also contained software devices designed to cheat in emissions tests.

Porsche, Audi and VW cars are all included in this new investigation, which affects at least 10,000 vehicles.

The EPA said that cars with 3.0 liter engines from the years 2014 to 2016 were affected.

However, VW denies the vehicles have software designed to cheat tests.

Instead the automaker says that cars with the 3.0 liter diesel V6 engines “had a software function which had not been adequately described in the application process”.

VW said it was cooperating with the EPA to “clarify the matter”.

“Volkswagen AG wishes to emphasize that no software has been installed in the 3-liter V6 diesel power units to alter emissions characteristics in a forbidden manner,” the company said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Porsche said it was “surprised” by the EPA’s allegations.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

“Until this notice, all of our information was that the Porsche Cayenne diesel is fully compliant,” it said in a statement.

The EPA says the investigation is ongoing.

“VW has once again failed its obligation to comply with the law that protects clean air for all Americans,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator at the EPA’s enforcement unit.

The EPA identified these diesel models as containing software aimed at cheating tests: 2014 VW Touareg; 2015 Porsche Cayenne; 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L and Q5.

In early September, VW admitted to the EPA that cars from the model years 2009 to 2015 contained software designed to cheat emissions tests.

It said that 11 million cars were affected.

That prompted US regulators to run further tests designed to detect such defeat devices and led to today’s announcement from the EPA.

“These tests have raised serious concerns about the presence of defeat devices on additional VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles. Today we are requiring VW Group to address these issues. This is a very serious public health matter,” Cynthia Giles said.

Regulators all over the world are now looking at VW’s diesel cars and the company is also facing criminal investigations.

State and federal prosecutors in the US have announced criminal investigations and German prosecutors are looking into the scandal.

VW CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned in late September as the scale of the scandal emerged.

At the time Martin Winterkorn said he was “not aware of any wrongdoing on my part” but was acting in the interest of the company.

Last month Volkswagen reported its first quarterly loss for at least 15 years after taking a big charge to cover the costs of the scandal.

VW said it had set aside €6.7 billion ($7.4 billion) to cover costs related to emissions cheating, which left it with a €2.52 billion pre-tax loss for the third quarter of the year.

Many analysts expect that VW will have to set aside more money to cover the recall of cars, penalties and lawsuits.

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At least 11 million vehicles worldwide are affected by the scandal that has erupted over Volkswagen’s rigging of US car emissions tests, the company said.

The carmaker said it was setting aside €6.5 billion to cover costs of the scandal.

VW added this would pay for “necessary service measures and other efforts to win back the trust of our customers”.

Volkswagen CEO Michael Horn has admitted it “totally screwed up” in using software to rig emissions tests.

VW shares were down more than 20% on September 22 in Frankfurt.

On September 18, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said VW diesel cars had much higher emissions than tests had suggested and that software in several diesel cars could deceive regulators.

“Volkswagen does not tolerate any kind of violation of laws whatsoever,” the carmaker said in its latest statement.

VW said provision for the scandal would be made “in the profit and loss statement in the third quarter of the current fiscal year”.

It added: “Due to the ongoing investigations, the amounts estimated may be subject to revaluation.”

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin has called for an EU inquiry, but a UK car industry spokesman said there was “no evidence” of cheating.

However, he also described current testing methods as “outdated” and said the car industry wanted an updated emissions test, “more representative of on-road conditions”.

Minister Michel Sapin said inquiries in Europe had to be conducted “at a European level”.

“We are a European market with European rules,” he told Europe 1 radio.

“It is these that have to be respected. It is these that have been violated in the United States.”

The French carmakers’ federation backed Michel Sapin’s call, saying such an inquiry would “allow us to confirm that French carmakers respect the procedures for approval in all of the countries where they operate”.

However, a European Commission spokeswoman said it was “premature to comment on whether any specific immediate surveillance measures are also necessary in Europe”.VW Dieselgate emissions scandal

Elsewhere, the South Korean government said it would test up to 5,000 Jetta and Golf cars, along with Audi A3s made in 2014 and 2015.

Its investigation will be expanded to all German diesel cars if issues are found.

The White House in Washington also reportedly said it was “quite concerned” about VW’s conduct.

Volkswagen was ordered to recall half a million cars in the US on September 18.

In addition to paying for the recall, VW faces fines that could add up to billions of dollars. There may also be criminal charges for VW executives.

In its latest statement, VW said it was “working at full speed to clarify irregularities” concerning what it called “a particular software used in diesel engines”.

The EPA found the “defeat device”, the device that allowed VW cars to emit less during tests than they would while driving normally, in diesel cars including the Audi A3 and the VW Jetta, Beetle, Golf and Passat models.

VW has stopped selling the relevant diesel models in the US, where diesel cars account for about a quarter of its sales.

The EPA said that the fine for each vehicle that did not comply with federal clean air rules would be up to $37,500. With 482,000 cars sold since 2008 involved in the allegations, it means the fines could reach $18 billion.

VW has ordered an external investigation, although it has not revealed who will be conducting it.

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Colorado’s Animas River turned mustard yellow as a toxic leak of wastewater is three times larger than officials had originally estimated.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) now says that three million gallons of wastewater spilled from an abandoned mine last week.

The EPA does not believe wildlife is in significant danger because the sludge moved so quickly downstream.

Photo Durango Herald

Photo Durango Herald

Local authorities took steps to protect drinking water supplies and farms.

The spill began on August 5 when EPA workers, who were cleaning up the closed Gold King Mine, accidentally sent the toxic water flowing into a tributary of the Animas River.

The Animas River has been closed and local officials have advised people to stay out of the water.

The EPA is meeting with Colorado residents this week and testing local wells for contamination. More than 1,000 wells may have been contaminated.

“We’re going to continue to work until this is cleaned up and hold ourselves to the same standards that we would anyone that would have created this situation,” Shaun McGrath, an EPA official, told residents at one of the community meetings, according the New York Times.

Some residents derided the agency, calling it the “Environmental Pollution Agency”.

The EPA is still investigating the health effects of the leak, which included heavy metals including lead and arsenic.

The discolored water, which is now beginning to dissipate, stretched more than 100 miles into neighboring New Mexico.

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Hyundai and Kia have agreed to pay a record $100 million settlement for overstating the fuel economy of their cars, the US regulators announce.

The South Korean carmakers were accused of overstating the fuel efficiency of 1.2 million vehicles.

The penalty is the largest ever paid for violation of the Clean Air Act, according to regulators.

“We are pleased to put this behind us,” said Hyundai US chief David Zuchowski, in a statement.

In November 2012, the two carmakers admitted to having overstated the fuel economy of their cars by up to six miles per gallon.

Hyundai and Kia have agreed to pay a record $100 million settlement for overstating the fuel economy of their cars

Hyundai and Kia have agreed to pay a record $100 million settlement for overstating the fuel economy of their cars

This, in turn, meant that the companies underreported the cars’ greenhouse gas emissions to the US Environmental Protection Agency by around 4.75 million metric tons.

As a result, Hyundai and Kia will also be forced to forfeit emissions credits for the difference between the original and the overstated data – worth approximately $200 million.

“This unprecedented resolution with Hyundai and Kia underscores the Justice Department’s firm commitment to safeguarding American consumers, ensuring fairness in every marketplace, protecting the environment, and relentlessly pursuing companies that make misrepresentations and violate the law,” said US Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement announcing the settlement.

Shares in both Hyundai and Kia declined nearly 6% in trading after markets had closed.

The allegations concern the Hyundai Accent, Elantra, Veloster and Santa Fe vehicles and the Kia Rio and Soul models.