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Arizona Environmental Law & Real Estate

Instructor: Kyle Aken

Kyle is a journalist and marketer that has taught writing to a number of different children and adults after graduating from college with a degree in Journalism. He has a passion for not just the written word, but for finding the universal truths of the world.

The state of Arizona complies with all federal laws and standards set in forth by the U.S. EPA, including CERCLA and SARA. Arizona also has specific requirements for real estate environmental hazards. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality oversees many of these hazards as well as the cleanup of these contaminated real estate properties.

Arizona Environmental Law and Real Estate

Like in most states, real estate agents in Arizona are required to operate under the legislation set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) have specific laws set in place for disclosure of environmental hazards in contaminated real estate property. This covers everything from mold in residential property to toxic waste hazards from commercial development.

The U.S. EPA website lists all pertinent information from basic legislation to guidance for reporting and analyzing data on possible environmental hazards for property owners/operators. In Arizona, specific legislation is overseen by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). There are also local zoning boards as well as citizen groups that have set forth certain standards that must be upheld.

Aside from CERCLA and SARA there are several other environmental laws that every agent in Arizona should be familiar with. The Arizona Real Estate Law Book contains information from the Arizona State Constitution, Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS), and the Arizona Administrative Code (AAC). More information on this law book, which is revised and published on an annual basis, can be found on the Arizona Department of Real Estate website.

Real estate agents and licensees are also able to order a copy of the book from this site. Many of these laws are concerned with specific environmental hazards and materials that can cause serious health problems to humans at a contaminated site. Additional information can also be found on ADEQ's website.

Radon

This naturally occurring gas can seep into homes through cracks or other types of openings in a home's foundation. Improper ventilation can make this even more dangerous. Arizona complies with EPA standards regarding radon gas. With prolonged exposure, radon can cause lung cancer in human beings. Radon can be found with kits that can be purchased by any consumer without the use of an inspector.

Asbestos

The Air Quality Division of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) handles legislation regarding the safe handling of properties that contain asbestos. Asbestos isn't typically a problem unless a property containing it is being remodeled. In 1973 the EPA enacted the Asbestos National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP). This act is to ensure the safe handling and cleanup of asbestos. The ADEQ has not produced any additional legislation above the federal EPA standards for asbestos.

Lead

Arizona operates under the legislation set for the by the EPA regarding lead exposure and lead-based paints in real estate properties. The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act requires both disclosure as well as consumer-focused information to be provided to all property buyers and tenants. The Arizona Department of Health Services offers information on their website regarding safe lead practices as well as zip codes in Arizona that are considered 'high risk' for lead contamination. They also offer resources for blood lead testing and screening measures.

Hazardous Waste

The Waste Programs Division of the ADEQ defines hazardous waste as 'any solid, liquid, or contained gaseous material that is discarded by being disposed of, incinerated, or recycled. It can be the byproduct of a manufacturing process or simply a commercial product that you use such as a cleaning fluid or battery acid. Even materials that are recyclable or can be reused in some way such as burning used oil for fuel may be considered waste' ('Waste Programs…, n.d.). These hazardous waste materials are classified as ignitable, corrosive, reactive/unstable, and toxic. ADEQ's website has pertinent information for legislation regarding hazardous waste including annual reporting, permits, inspection, compliance, and pollution prevention.

Ground Water Contamination

The Water Quality Division of the ADEQ covers legislation regarding ground water contamination. Their mission is 'to protect and enhance public health and the environment by ensuring safe drinking water and reducing the impact of pollutants discharged to surface and groundwater' ('Water Quality…,' n.d.). The main responsibilities of this division of the ADEQ are as follows:

1. Ensure the delivery of safe drinking water from public water systems

2. Recognize problems with the pollution of water and create standards to deal with them

3. Investigate complaints and violations of water quality laws

4. Supply permits to protect water in Arizona from pollutant sources

5. Engage in partnerships to manage water resource quality

6. Monitor and assess the surface and ground water quality

7. Regulate the discharge and treatment of Arizona wastewater

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde contamination is another contaminant that is covered under the Air Quality Division of the ADEQ. Formaldehyde is used in many building materials, particularly with pressed wood products like particleboard, plywood paneling, and fiberboard. It is commonly used in Urea-Formaldehyde (UF) resins as an adhesive. There are legal limits set as to what kind and how much formaldehyde may be used in building materials. The state of Arizona follows EPA guidelines with the use of formaldehyde in real estate property. Disclosure is required for the sale of any real estate property that contains formaldehyde in the building materials.

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