What’s the point of having a healthy home?
Just as our bodies thrive when nourished with healthy food, they prosper when nurtured by healthy dwellings. There is a strong parallel between “conventional” homes and “conventional” food. Just as you would not knowingly feed your child foods full of toxins on a regular basis, you wouldn’t knowingly put her to bed in a room full of toxic chemicals. With food we can check ingredient labels and choose pesticide-free options to make sure we are making healthy choices. With sheets, mattresses, clothing, and paint, making sure the ingredients are healthy is much trickier: there are usually no labels revealing the chemicals inside!
Wait. I’m not eating the paint, mattress or sheets! How can the chemicals in those things have an effect on me?
These chemicals are inhaled, absorbed through the skin, and yes, sometimes ingested. An EPA study found that paint off-gassed for up to 42 months on drywall. During that offgassing, VOC’s are released into the air and inhaled by inhabitants. The more time you spend in the space in question, the more VOC’s you will have been exposed to. Flame retardants in mattresses and sofas break down into dust and end up getting inhaled, or even ingested. Think about any members of your household crawling around on all fours. They are the ones doing the most ingesting of chemical laden dust.
Aren’t we protected from toxic chemicals by the EPA?
Unfortunately not! There are currently at least 80,000 chemicals used in the US market and the EPA has little or no safety information about the vast majority of them. The manufacturers of these chemicals don’t have to prove they are safe before being sold and used on the market, instead the burden of proof is on the consumer to prove that a chemical or product is unsafe. As more and more body burden studies show that these chemicals are building up or “bioaccumulating” in our bodies, there is an ever greater need for consumers to protect themselves through informed choices.
I already live in a green home. Aren’t all green homes healthy?
They should be! However, a healthy indoor environment isn’t mandatory for all green building certifications. Many green building programs focus on energy efficiency, which is certainly important, but overall health effects can be overlooked. Some green building projects can receive enough points to be certified without receiving any points at all for indoor environment. We believe that a home is only truly sustainable if it sustains the lives of the inhabitants in good health.
Why is indoor air quality a concern?
The EPA has issued a statement that indoor air is up to 10 times worse than outdoor air, even in polluted cities. Poor indoor air can contribute to allergies, asthma, respiratory problems, headaches, fatigue, sickness and low productivity. Mold can cause allergic reactions and worse, in both susceptible and perfectly healthy individuals. Fine particulate matter can pass through the nasal passages and become embedded in the lungs, causing grave illness later on.
Electromagnetic Energy sounds a little mystical. Is it?
Our focus on electromagnetic energy is scientific. There is no controversy about the existence of electric fields, magnetic fields, and radiofrequency energy. In fact, those who work in IT are quite aware of the problems that interference create. If you have ever heard cell phone noise on your radio then you have heard electromagnetic interference at work! Any controversy about this topic is based on the health effects of exposure to this energy. As there are numerous studies linking non-ionizing EMR exposure to various cancers, and as there are increasing numbers of electrically hypersensitive individuals, we recommend the precautionary principle.
If wireless devices are sources of electromagnetic pollution, does this mean I have to get rid of all my cool gadgets?
Each situation is different! If you are living with an Electrically Hypersensitive individual, our focus will be on reducing that individual’s exposure as much as possible. However, if you simply want to reduce your family’s overall exposure, it is entirely possible to adopt better and best uses, which may simply involve turning off certain devices at night or relocating them to different rooms.
What if we find something that can’t be fixed? Wouldn’t it be better not to know?
If we discover a substantial concern that is difficult to alter, I will suggest you focus on other opportunities for improvement. Your overall body burden is what is important and there is always room for improvement!
I probably need to spring clean my home before you come over! I’m going to be embarrassed to have someone scrutinize my home!
No deep cleaning is necessary. In fact, it will be more informative for us if your home is in its “average” condition of cleanliness. In any case, please do not clean with harsh chemicals such as chlorine bleach before your appointment.
Building Biology – Baubiologie, Baubiology. Building Biology is a holistic approach with a focus on biological and ecological effects of the built environment. Building Biologists refer to a set of 25 principles and to a set of standards developed to measure the overall soundness of a location.
Chemical Sensitivity – (see Multiple Chemical Sensitivity below).
Electric Fields – AC electric fields are present with voltage. They are emitted from a wire that is plugged in, regardless of whether the device is on or off.
Electro Hypersensitivity (EHS) – Electrical Hypersensitivity, Electrical Sensitivity, ES, Electromagnetic Sensitivity, EMS. Some individuals experience allergic type reactions when in the presence of various types of Electromagnetic Radiation. Individuals can experience a variety of symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, depression, headaches, body aches and pains, ringing in the ears, dizziness, impaired sleep, memory loss, confusion, and heart palpitations. Many describe a burning or tingling sensation when in the presence of a source. Often linked to mold sensitivity.
Electromagnetic Pollution – Forms of electromagnetic radiation that are man-made and do not naturally occur, thus creating more concern from a health perspective. Radiofrequency or microwaves exist in nature, but not with the pulsed, modulated form that we have given them. Likewise, while direct current electric fields (air electricity during a storm) and direct current magnetic fields (magnetic ores, the earth’s magnetic field) exist in nature alternating current Electric and Magnetic fields do not. There is evidence that the alternating property of these fields has an interfering effect on the body’s own electromagnetic communication.
Electromagnetic Radiation – Includes ionizing radiation (radioactivity) and non-ionizing radiation (microwaves / Rf, Magnetic Fields, Electric Fields, the visible light spectrum).
Holistic Approach – Treating the subject as a whole, looking at how the whole interacts. In terms of a home, this means treating the home as a whole system with interconnected causes and effects.
Magnetic Fields – AC magnetic fields are created when electrical current is present. The fields radiate out from the source in waves.
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) – Individuals become hypersensitive to chemicals so that much smaller doses cause reactions compared to a non-MCS individual. Many are hypersensitive to smells as well, able to smell chemicals that others cannot perceive. Offending chemicals are often man-made, but some become sensitive to natural products as well, such as essential oils and spices. MCS is recognized as a disability by the HUD. Individuals often experience respiratory reactions, headaches, and adrenaline responses (fight or flight) when confronted with even small doses of offending chemicals. Often linked to mold sensitivity.
Radiofrequency Energy – Radiofrequency radiation, Radiofrequency waves, Microwaves. This range of frequencies is used for wireless technology. RF energy has thermal effects (heating), and has also been observed to affect cellular communication.
Sleeping Environment – When surveying home health effects, special attention is focused on the sleeping environment. The body uses rest and sleep time to heal itself. If the sleep environment contains toxins and stressors, the body’s ability to heal can be impaired. When you take into consideration that this is possibly the one space where you spend the most time (an average of 8 hours a night, or 1/3 of your entire life), this is usually the most important place to start transforming your home.
Smart Meter – A smart meter is a utility meter that sends information about your usage to the utility company via wireless technology. Many of these meters are programmed to emit every 30 seconds. This emission is sent out with a burst of RF energy. Many EHS have developed worsened symptoms with the arrival of smart meters in their neighborhoods. From a general health concern, it would be wise to be aware if you have one (or more) of these devices on your home in order to reduce your proximity as much as possible.
Wireless Technology – Wireless technology uses radiofrequency energy to communicate data. This includes cell phones, wifi, smart meters, bluetooth, wireless gaming devices, e-readers and tablets, wireless keyboards and mice, and many others. With this increasingly vast array of wireless devices, there is increasing health concern as to the effects of exposure to the bursts of data packed energy waves sent out by these devices. Of particular concern are those which are used in close proximity to the head, the genital region, or those used by children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.