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Minnesota residents, business owners face expensive toxin crisis

Property owners in Minnesota may be having problems transferring their homes to new owners in the future thanks to a new set of rules that requires them to test for chemical vapors before the homes can be transferred. A Feb. 25 news report indicated that the vapors are now rising out of the soil throughout Minnesota due to pollution from decades ago. They are being produced by industrial solvents.

Pollution officials stated that the sites have been contaminated by vapor intrusion, and now property owners need to test for it before they can sell their homes. On top of that, the property owners are required to address the vapors before they can sell or transfer the properties.

For businesses, this change can lead to millions in expenses as they aim to make their buildings safe from the vapors, now known to be carcinogenic. The volatile organic compounds are still in use, and research from 2000 onward shows how exposure carries several serious health risks. Now, the state is driving down exposure limits, but that poses a problem in real estate.

So far, the state has had to fix 298 sites, and it has 152 in process with another 181 to go after that. There are an additional 1,400 or so sites that need to be investigated, too. Maybe not surprising is the fact that with more research comes a greater understanding of just how pervasive this issue is. Since vapors move, it's essential to clean up the issue causing them. For real estate property owners, this is a costly obligation with extensive questions over who should be held responsible for the bill.

If this kind of situation happens to you, it's important to talk to your attorney about how you can pay for and repair the property you want to sell or what needs to happen before you can purchase a home.

Source: StarTribune, "Silent but toxic, chemical vapors contaminate hundreds of properties across Minnesota," Josephine Marcotty, Feb. 25, 2017

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