House near to car workshops / main streets

Dear All,

I am planing to buy a house. But the house is near two intersected main streets. On one streets, there are 2 small gas stations and 3 small car workshops, all of them are around 600 feet away the house. The other street is only 200 feet away the house.
I have the following concerns:

  1. Do you think the fume or oil leak from the gas stations (600 feet away) can reach my house and cause any negative effects on our health? Since we have young kids.
  2. Is there any waste or emission from the auto workshops (600 feet away), such as Asbestos, can reach my house and post any health hazard to our family?
  3. Those two street both are double yellow (one lane each direction) main streets, with average and smooth traffic during off-peak hours, very light traffic at morning and night. But during peak hours, traffic jam is very likely. Do you think the emission from long line of cars also post any health hazard to our family?

Thank you for your time and kind comments very much!



Asbestos is no longer used, and hasn’t been for some time now

Here in California, auto shops are required to post warnings that there are several chemicals and products in use that are known to cause cancer

Gas stations, in the past, have been known to contaminate the soil. There have been cases of the tanks rusting and causing chemicals to seep into the soil. When a gas station closes, it can cost significant money to clean up the area and make it fit for other uses.

That said, you know what kind of area the house is in.

Enjoy the house, but don’t expect things to improve or change just because you moved into the area.

The main worry (at least in my opinion) would be that the area is apparently zoned commercial. That affects residential values and if in the future someone decides to build a rat poison manufacturing plant a block or so down the street or even across the street from you there will be nothing you can do about it.

Think of it as industrial creep… :slight_smile:

Look for another house. As soon as someone in your house (if you buy the one near the gas stations) gets sick you will blame it on the gas stations. You’ll be miserable and paranoid if you buy the house. Look for something else.

In reality the traffic will pose a bigger hazard to the kids. There can be leaks from underground storage tanks at the gas stations. Car repair shops are not usually the most “clean” businesses from a pollution standpoint. Some operators are more careful than others about disposal of old oil, antifreeze, and other hazardous materials.

Your level of concern going into this leads me to believe you are not really going to be happy with these neighbors. On the other hand you won’t have to go far to get your car(s) repaired so you have to weigh the upside against the downside. I think the downside should prevail in this case. And don’t buy a property near a dry cleaning facility - they are often the worst polluters.

+1 for @UncleTurbo.

Actually asbestos still is used in some organic pads. But with small kids I’d be much more worried about the heavy nearby traffic.

Here’s a OSHA warning about it:

I’m always mystified by people who choose to live on or very near busy streets. The relentless, continual noise and activity, at all hours, means there’s never peace and quiet. For most families though, they stay indoors so I suppose this noise and activity would not affect them. But if you appreciate the calming effect of a quiet location, you might consider this aspect.

I would also be concerned about the high concentrations of car and truck emissions. In southern California, I think it’s the Port of Long Beach, there are big concerns about medical problems resulting from diesel emissions from trucks accessing the port. Granted this is a bigger scale of emissions, but still, I’d choose to live far from such concentrated sources of contaminated air. I live in a small town, yet we have recently learned that levels of ozone reach dangerous levels because of ozone drifting up from Sacramento which is about 50 miles away. Ozone is a significant health problem. You might contact your local environmental health agency to see what is known locally about air quality in the area where this house is located.

I agree this is not a good location. You should be more concerned about lead contamination in the soil and possibly in the paint in the house. Years of leaded gas on busy streets has deposited lead in the soil. Kids go play in the yard and are exposed to lead. That can cause life long problems a lot more than car fumes.

The service stations etc. I would consider a minimal probability of any health related problems, unless the house is on a well. Tending to agree with other concerns raised so far.

“I’m always mystified by people who choose to live on or very near busy streets.”

I agree, but you buy what you can afford to. @johnsmith, if you can afford to buy somewhere that is less commercial, try to do that. There are places like the one you describe near work. But there are also homes just a block away that would be much more desirable, and should have a similar price.

Along the lines of commercial encroachment, consider what happened with a husband and wife who are good friends of mine. They lived in a neighboring small town and near a grain elevator which was pretty quiet most of the time.
They bought a large lot right down the street and put in a very nice modular home along with some landscaping.

Several years later the elevator owners put in an alfalfa drying operation right across the street and it smelled like an open sewer at best.

At least this did not last but a year or so. The EPA came in and was going to hammer the elevator to the tune of a quarter million or so in fines for several violations.
Before this was resolved the alfalfa drying business spontaneously combusted about 1o’clock in the morning and burnt to the ground. Arson was strongly suspected but never proven and all violations were now ash.


The community taking matters into their own hands?

I agree with too with @uncle. Like buying cheap cars, inexpensive houses are tempting but usually it’s the location, location, location that makes it suitable or not. The traffic would bother me more then anything but in addition… My son lives in a development near a river along which, the only way to the interstate is miles away. There are no gas stations to and from his house along this distance which makes travel inconvenient. Why ? Someone thought that zoning for gas stations near fresh water was unwise. I agree ! I assume you will be on city water ( if not, a no brainier) but still, it’s commercial and unless you live in an apartment and it’s just a necessary temp. arrangement, I vote no for pollution, noise and general devaluation of property later.

@db4690, I don’t think it was the community although I have no proof one way or the other. My gut feeling is that it was the owners of the operation who are heavily involved in farming and a number of farm related businesses and the total loss ended the investigation, potential fines, and eliminated all evidence.
The volunteer fire deparment was a block away but by the time everyone was rounded up a building full of dried weeds is already toast.

I agree with @UncleTurbo. It’s unlikely you’ll be impacted by whatever is at the gas stations, but from the sound of things you’re going to obsess over it as long as you live there. So it would be best just to find another place.

"I'm always mystified by people who choose to live on or very near busy streets."

Live in a big city like NYC or even Boston and it’s hard NOT to live on a busy street. Personally I prefer a nice quiet street.


Yup, I know what you mean. I spent parts of two winters in Boston - definitely not my cup of tea.

On the other extreme, I lived three years in a small simple cabin in a tiny hamlet on the edge of a national park where bird song is the dominant sound. I vividly remember waking up to the sound of a woodpecker scuffing its feet as it climbed up the oak tree outside my window. It was definitely the feet, not the tapping or vocalization that I heard. It was so quiet that at times sitting outside in the middle of a summer day when I heard flies zipping by, I swear I could detect the doppler effect in the sound. Much more restful environment, but exceedingly rare.

JT is right. Until the 1970s, asbestos was common in many applications including construction, and unless mitgation was done the house itself could easily contain asbestos. As to other contaminants, all best are off. Countless housing developments have been built on “reclaimed” land, places where gas stations with leaky tanks used to exist, and even land that could have been used for just about anything. In the end, we buy what we can afford. And hope for the best.

To the OP, you’ve done the research. I applaud you for that. If it concerns you, the only thing I can suggest is to keep looking.

I think you should keep looking. You’ll be living with the noise and traffic for a very long time, plus the smell of gasoline if the wind is right. If you have kids, they’ll be playing near that busy road. Unless you’re a masochist, or the deal is so sweet that you can suffer all of this, choose another house!

About 15 miles from my home is a local refinery. I’m amazed at the people that live across the street from it. Some of the homes are what looks like only a few hundred yards from some very large tanks. You can smell the refinery in every inch of that part of town. People get ‘fallout’ from the refining process on their cars, homes, etc. Only being next to a steel mill would be worse. Every few years something happens at the plant where the immediate neighborhood is subject to extra smells, glaring light from the flare stack, or “precautionary evacuations” Plus the constant fear of the whole neighborhood being vaporized if someone really screws up. No thanks. You can probably have a house on that street for about 10-15K though if you look around.

Like buying cheap cars, inexpensive houses are tempting but usually it's the location, location, location that makes it suitable or not.

I live in a small development off a busier street. There are about 20 homes on the main street and then there are 10 homes in my little development. All 30 homes were built on at least 2 acres of land…and by the same builder… and all had similar designs. They were all up for sale about the same time.

The homes in our little development went for $50k MORE then the homes on the main street.