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Health Enhancing Homes

CDC Air Quality Policy


The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has established new standards in its buildings for air quality, including perfume and other toxic factors that affect the indoor environment. As Bau-Biologie Practitioners we are very glad to see this. Hopefully such standards will be emulated and start to permeate the workplace and home living environment.


In the November 2010 issue of The Townsend Letter, Katherine Duff highlights the new key guidelines from the CDC "Indoor Environmental Quality Policy."


  • Guidelines for construction and renovation projects that identify routes of exposures, less toxic materials and protection of workers.
  • Ventilation systems must be protected from harboring toxic materials
  • Vehicles are not allowed to idle near air-intake or entryways.
  • Efforts must be made to interrupt pollutant pathways.
  • Activities that will expose workers to excess odors, noise, and dust should be schedules for off-duty hours. Where that is not possible, workers will be given five days' notice so that those with chemical sensitivities can make alternative arrangements.
  • Integrated pest management practices must be utilized. When pesticides are needed, the least toxic must be used.
  • Cleaning products must meet "green" specifications. They must be odor free.
  • Scented or fragranced products are prohibited at all times in all interior space owned, rented, or leased by the CDC.
  • Personal care products such as colognes are not to be applied inside the buildings. Employees are encouraged to be as fragrance free as possible when they arrive to work. They are also encouraged to avoid using scented laundry detergents and fabric softeners.
  • Procedures for employees to file complaints and investigation requirements.



sky and grass

Radical Radiation


There are several types of energy, some of which are beneficial to our health, and some of which are not.


These types include natural light sources, radioactivity, air ionization, electricity, and electromagnetic radiation. The effect upon our health depends on whether our bodies are adapted to the type of energy.



Light

The effect of light on the body is greatly underestimated. Though we understand the role of light on vegetation, resulting in photosynthesis, the effects of light on human health only seem to be considered when there is an obvious Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) effect. Otherwise, light and its physiological role in human beings is ignored. Yet, we all instinctively feel the dampening effect on our mood of a dark, cloudy day and the uplifting effect of a sunny day. Could it be that light effects humans to the degree that it effects plants? In Bau-Biologie, we think so. In fact, only specialized plant and animal species can survive without light. In Bau-Biologie, the importance of light in terms of well-being is recognized and promoted.



Color

Light is that spectrum of frequencies which humans can see. Frequencies within the visible spectrum are visible as colors. Color clearly effects us. As we respond differently to different colors, we are actually responding to distinct frequencies represented by a particular colored light.


Color is also a factor in a home or work space that impacts psychological well-being. Though most people's living spaces are already established, some aspects of design can be changed or modified through cosmetic means like paints and textures. Colors create different psychological affects and should therefore be used with appropriateness and consideration.



Radioactivity

Radioactivity has been correlated to cancer and other ill effects due to its damaging effect on DNA. Radioactive exposures are cumulative, in other words, each exposure increases genetic and cellular damage. There are no safe levels of ionizing radiation.


  • Naturally occurring - Some natural radiation occurs from naturally occurring isotopes in water and rock (some granite sources have been found to be radioactive), in addition to radon gas which may seep into homes via cracked or otherwise damaged foundations.
  • Man-Made - In addition to x-rays, other sources include radioactive building materials such as some types of gypsum wallboard, the radioactive coating on luminous dials and clocks, and the radioactive material in smoke detectors.

Air Ionization

Air ionization refers to the electrical charge on air molecules. Given that we are electrical beings, it is only logical that balanced electrical charges are essential for proper metabolism and for cellular respiration. High static electrical fields only build up temporarily due to weather events such as before thunderstorms. The Faune wind in Europe is known to cause increases in positive ionic charge in the air, which in turn is known to cause an increase in traffic accidents, psychological disruptions, symptoms of stress, visits to the hospital. In nature, the ratio between positive and negative ions is 1 (positive) to 1.2 (negative). The human body prefers an environment with more negative than positive ions, as is the case of air in the mountains, at the oceanside, and beside bodies of water.


The positive ionization charge of the European Faune is recognized as a natural phenomenon detrimentally influencing psychological health. Many countries in Europe are therefore more aware and more protective of their citizens as regards to acceptable maximum levels of electric, EMF and radiation pollution. For example, in response to demand by citizens, France has set up EMF-free mobile home parks for EMF sensitive individuals. Not only do the French recognize the effects of EMF pollution, they provide some accommodation.


Static electric fields are also caused by friction of materials at the ends of the Triboelectric series. Some natural materials such as wool, silk, wood, leather, cat's fur, paper, human hair and hands, lead and many man-made materials that are plastic-like such as acrylic, polyester, synthetic rubber, polystyrene, polyethylene, and Teflon are able to hold static electrical charges. These charges are then released when the materials come into contact - as in during the winter months when indoor air is dry, a spark may fly when you touch a wool sweater. The health issue with static electrical fields is that humans feel and act better when there are more negative ions than positive ions in the atmosphere. The highly positively charged air of closed office buildings contributes to stress levels of their inhabitants.


Easy Solutions: Keep your home adequately humidified when heating systems will help prevent static electrical build up. Wear clothes made of 100% natural fibers or mostly natural fibers since synthetic materials attract positive ions. You don't want to be a magnet for positive ions unless you want to feel grumpy, lack focus or fall asleep.



Electromagnetic (EM) Radiation

As with light, our understanding of the effects of electromagnetic pollution on human health is somewhat limited. Yet, the detrimental effects of man-made electromagnetic radiation is undoubtedly greater than we imagine. The difficulty lies in identifying health effects because EM radiation has become ubiquitous, and though some people may experience obvious effects at very high exposures, health effects are generally slow to materialize, often taking months or years to manifest. Much remains to be learned. It is interesting to note that at one time, we had X-Ray machines in shoe stores and everyone believed that ionizing radiation was harmless.


Electromagnetism may be defined by its most significant feature: Electromagnetic radiation is everywhere. It is emitted by the sun, the earth and by all electrical devices from electric alarm clocks to high power lines to military radar systems. Electromagnetism is defined by frequency and wavelength. Since electricity flows in waves, frequency is the number of wave crests per unit of time and is designated in Hertz/second. Wavelength refers to the distance between crests which decreases as frequency increases.



Natural Sources of EM Radiation

The sun radiates energy throughout the electromagnetic frequency spectrum. Through atmospheric filtering, natural life-giving frequencies help to sustain life here on Earth. Particular rock and water formations can also emit electromagnetic radiation. The Earth's frequencies range from 0 to 75 Hz which is a similar range as those of human cells. Humans have adapted to thrive in the Earth's natural magnetic field. Health concerns and risks increase when we live outside of this natural field.



EM Radiation and the Body

Since the early 1900's, with the rapid technological development of man, electromagnetic pollution has been ubiquitous to modern life. The problem is that the radiation and electromagnetic fields generated by man, though imperceptible, interfere with the sensitive electromagnetic forces in the human body. It is recognized that ionizing radiation, that which causes ions to be released into the material through which it passes, from X-rays, gamma and cosmic ultraviolet rays is damaging to humans. It is less well known that non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation from lasers, radio frequencies and radar, ELF from power facilities, static electricity and magnetic fields is likewise implicated in disease conditions. The body responds to electromagnetic fields via various mechanisms. The body is made mostly of mineralized water and is therefore a giant semi-conductor. All semi-conductors are responsive to their electromagnetic environments. Likewise, our ionic nature implies that we also respond to magnetism. Further, according to Martin Blank, PhD, human DNA is and acts like a fractal antenna picking up all ambient frequencies. Modern civilization bombards our sensitive DNA with frequencies outside of the Earth's natural frequency range. Thus, there are a variety of mechanisms by which unnatural electromagnetic radiation may derange our bodies.


To minimize restrictions, industry and government have lobbied to set ludicrously high maximum exposure guidelines. Studies point, however, to increases in a wide variety of conditions and diseases involving many physiological systems as a result of electromagnetic pollution - asthma, brain tumors, childhood leukemia, reproductive disorders, cardiac disorders, seizures and other neurological disorders, skin and eye issues, psychological and/or learning problems, as well as diseases associated with cellular communication such as cancers, Alzheimers, CFS, FMS, multiple sclerosis. The scope of the diseases confirms the conclusion proven by physicists and biochemists - that electromagnetic radiation damages cellular DNA.


We at the Atelier think that unnatural sources of EMF radiation compromise vitality and well-being, based upon research being conducted world-wide and because of the obvious fact that our bodies consistently show that synthesized items that are not part of the natural schema, and to which our bodies have not had time to adapt, are detrimental to our health.


How Cell-Phones and EMF Damage You: Presentation at Nov 2010 San Francisco Commonwealth Club by Martin Blank, PhD. of Columbia University



AC Electric and AC Magnetic Fields

There are actually two environmental forces activated when there is an electromagnetic field. Electric fields are created by electric wiring that is connected to a 120V power source. Magnetic fields are generated every time an electric appliance is turned on and when there is net current in any electrical wiring.


AC electric and AC magnetic differ in their source. The AC electric fields are associated with indoor wiring, cables, extension cords, power lines, and power strips. The fields exist as long as the line or appliance, whether in use or not, is connected to a power source. AC magnetic fields are generated by electrical devices when they are powered on. Magnetic fields require current to be flowing.


Some sources of AC magnetic fields are electrical installations, motors, coils, conductors, transformers and electrical appliances such as refrigerators, washers, dryers, computers, printers, lamps, alarm clocks, televisions.


AC electric and magnetic fields effect our health in slightly different ways. Both appear to effect the nervous system, the first more overtly manifest in psychological symptoms and insomnia, the latter influencing cellular communication and function thereby linked to cancer, Alzheimer's, miscarriage and teratogenic effects.


In the home environment, it is best to distance the bedrooms from the home's electric panel, the kitchen and wash-up areas. If that is not possible, shield the problem area using specialized paint or metal mosquito netting. In the bedroom itself, it is advisable to remove all electrical devices including televisions, personal computer equipment, electrical beauty devices and work-out equipment. Lamps should be unplugged if left remaining and a battery operated alarm clock replaces the electric one.



Direct Current Magnetic Fields

Deviations from the Earth's natural magnetic field strength are created naturally in nature as well as by man. Natural DC magnetic fields occur due to particular geographic structures such as underground streams, caverns, ore beds and fissures in rock formations. The manmade disturbances are caused by the placement of metal and electronic equipment including steel girders, piping, steel reinforced concrete, wire structures, metal bed springs and frames. To avoid DC magnetic fields in the bedroom, it is advised to sleep on a bed frame made entirely of wood with mattresses of natural fibers (not springs). The bed is ideally in the center of the room away from walls, metal framed windows and other metal substructures. Electrical appliances are removed including headphones, speakers, tape recorders, phone receivers, TVs. If abnormalities in terrestrial radiation are due to a geographic features, the positioning of the bed can be changed or another room can be chosen for sleeping. In some cases, entire villages are effected with studies showing geopathic stress contributing to higher incidences of cancers and neurological disturbances.



Radio Frequencies

RF is radio frequencies. Radio frequencies are what the telecommunications industry - satellite, cellular phones, pagers, mobile phones, walkie talkies - uses to wirelessly transmit information across space and time. Radio frequencies start at 30,000 cycles per second (kHz) and go up to 300 GHz in the microwave section. The dangers to humans of microwaves is common knowledge. (With our new awareness of bio-photons, it can be theorized how microwaved food is damaged.) 60Hz refers to a particular electrical frequency, Extra Low Frequency, which is used to transmit energy in power lines in North and South America. (Hertz is the term that describes the number of wave cycles per second.) Though there is dispute within industry and government, the science points to there being detrimental health effects from constant or consistent exposure to Extra Low Frequency radiation as well as to the higher end radio frequencies.




water on leaf

Wet Water


Quality water is crucial to health. Our bodies are made up of more than 70% water. Water performs countless critical functions in the body. Without water, life on earth does not exist. We depend on the water we consume in order to function and to detoxify. If the water we drink is contaminated, every cell in our bodies is filled with these same contaminants. As the level of toxins from all sources increases, bodily functions become compromised. One of the best ways to reduce the body's toxic burden is to drink plenty of the universal solvent, pure water.


When purifying water for drinking and bathing purposes in our homes, we need consider the following:


  • Contaminants - added fluoride, disinfectants, petrochemicals, naturally occurring fluoride and arsenic and other materials, lead, mercury and heavy metals due to pipes, petrochemicals from plastic pipes, and radioactive contaminants.
  • Micro-organisms - bacteria, fungi, cysts, and protozoa.
  • Turbidity and dissolved solids - we are used to drinking clear water, not muddy water.
  • Hard minerals - too low a concentration of dissolved minerals, as in distilled water, will cause the water to pull minerals from the body, whereas too high of a concentration can cause the body to deposit the hard minerals in joints, blood vessels and other places.
  • Dissolved oxygen dissolved - oxygen naturally settles out if water is allowed to sit for a long period; water is naturally oxygenated when a stream tumbles over rocks.
  • Electrical/magnetic charge - the exact distribution of electrical charge on the water molecules causes molecules to group into certain patterns, believed to be of health significance.
  • Fascinatingly, even the thoughts or feelings experienced near a source of water appear to affect how the water molecules align. Experiments by Dr. Masaru Emoto have shown that water forms more organized crystals when it is from a pure source and when inspirational words such as "love" or "purity" are written on the water container and when "positive thinking" is conducted around the water.


How safe is water in our homes?

Drinking water from municipal or private sources in America can be considered unsafe for many reasons:


  • Water treatment systems were built at the turn of the century to reduce contagious disease through contaminated water. More than a century later, water borne contagious diseases are no longer the primary health concern as a result of the dumping of chlorine and other biocidal chemicals into our water systems. This is not to say that bacterial or parasitic contamination is not an issue or a possibility - as in the Milwaukee cryptosporidium outbreak. Bacterial and/or parasitic contamination of America's water systems is much more common than generally recognized. Ofttimes impure water goes undetected causing the so-called 24 hour flu, as well as an assortment of digestive complaints that are misdiagnosed as GERD, colitis, Crohn's disease and the like.
  • Since the 1950's the Department of Agriculture has allowed the grazing of cattle on federal forest lands. These cattle are also fed chemical and antibiotic laden food. Consequently, without their natural resistance, cattle spread parasitic and bacterial diseases throughout federal lands. As their feces are washed away our ground water becomes polluted. With the rise in resistant bacteria microbial contamination may well surface again as a significant concern. On the other hand, with Prozac residues detected in all the fresh water fish tested from the lakes in Texas, I'd say that the low level of hundreds of chemicals in the water, to say nothing of their synergistic effects, is a serious, though overlooked, problem. I believe that our chemical-laden water contributes significantly to the total body burden.
  • The water treatment systems in America primarily count on chemicals to kill pathogens and to 'purify' water. Chlorine is a human poison. Chlorine gas is highly poisonous. The chlorine used reacts with organic matter to create poisonous disinfectant byproducts including chloramines. Further, chloroform is inhaled every time a faucet is turned on and it is particularly concentrated in steam - as in a shower or hot bath. Consequently, our municipal water purification systems actually add to our toxic load. Chlorine is particularly insidious since as a halide not naturally in water or food, it pushes iodine out of the thyroid gland causing thyroid dysfunction - which results in metabolic havoc.
  • Many localities add fluoride to their water systems. There is NO safe level of fluoride for humans. It is a toxic byproduct of aluminum processing and was incorporated into drinking water systems as a result of pressure from the industry, with little independent research and no longitudinal research as to human health consequences. Fluoride is a prohibited substance in almost all water systems in the European Economic Communion. It is a recognized poison worldwide. The supposed beneficial effect on caries, as claimed by its proponents, has been disproven time and again in epidemiological studies in Europe and here in the U.S. Fluoride is one of the 16 poisonous inorganic compounds regulated by the Water Safety Act. Adding fluoride to municipal water systems is like forced medication of the entire population since fluoride supplementation is only available by prescription.
  • Most of the pipes that deliver our water from source to treatment plants and then to homes in communities were laid down decades ago. Some pipes were made of concrete, others of composites that included asbestos and other toxic matter, while some metal pipes contain lead. Newer pipes may be made of PVC, (polyvinylchloride), a human and environmental poison. Water delivery systems may therefore also compromise the purity of our drinking water.
  • The 30 years of research by Dr. Masuro Emoto shows that the water we drink from taps and most bottles is structurally disturbed. The structure of treated water doesn't resemble that of water which has tumbled over rocks down streams through forests or that of water percolating up artesian wells or that of water melting from ancient glaciers. Naturally structured water seems to be better absorbed by the body providing improved hydration.


Well Water

The biggest problem with well water is that it is seldom tested by those who drink the water - unless the well is communal and serves enough households that it, by law, has to be tested. Well and aquifers need testing for:


  • bacterial contamination - which can be performed as a total e-coliform test which is indicative of total bacterial contamination
  • nitrates from fertilizer run-off
  • chemicals derived from industry, agriculture, mining and forestry.


Inorganic Compounds

Inorganic compounds are those that do not bind with carbon. They include heavy metals, metal based chemicals and salts: fluoride, arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, aluminum, tin, thallium, beryllium, nitrates, nitrites, arsenic, selenium, barium, antimony, chromium, copper, asbestos, cyanide. These can best be removed with a reverse osmosis filtration system. Activated charcoal filters which contain manganese dioxide, copper-zinc alloy or a titanium ceramic ion exchange media removes lead. One must be attentive to change the filters often enough to prevent recontamination of water and one cannot count on the removal of other heavy metals with a charcoal filter.



Organic Compounds

Pesticides and insecticides are often used near local water supplies. For Example: Water in my locality comes from the nearby Santa Cruz mountains. Although people are prohibited from the source lakes, once the water leaves the mountains, the cities' watersheds are not further protected from chemical or other human and animal contamination. There are a series of perk-ponds that run from the Santa Cruz mountains toward the center of the City of San Jose encircled by walking trails. Signs are often posted providing notice of pesticide spraying in the area. These perk-ponds run along side the main freeway between Silicon Valley and oceanside communities. With a minimum of 20,000 cars passing over the mountains daily, particulate matter from vehicle exhaust, inorganic compounds including cadmium and MPBEs are deposited in the water supply.



Water Delivery Systems, Plasticizers and XenoEstogens

Water delivered via soldered pipes, plastic piping or plastic bottles changes the quality of the water. Not only is the natural structure of the water altered, but man-made chemicals leach into the water thus contaminating it. A primary health concern is related to the trace amounts of plasticizers or phthalates that we end up drinking. Remember, trace amounts on a daily basis add up, contributing to the total toxic body burden.


Plasticizers and PVC (polyvinylchloride) are recognized as xenoestrogens or, fake estrogens, and act as endocrine/hormonal disruptors. Bottled water and waters treated by municipalities may also be contaminated with trace amounts of herbicides and insecticides that likewise contain xenoestrogens. Hormones are the chemical messengers of the body and direct the body in its functions. Introducing chemicals into the body that mimic hormones, that lock onto the hormone receptors on cell walls in place of our own hormones and that increase the body's total hormone-acting chemical compounds, deranges the delicate balance of the endocrine system. The fact that most of these plastics imitate estrogen leads to excess estrogen-like compounds in the body, along with all the health implications and complications of estrogen dominance. Symptoms of estrogen dominance are pervasive in modern society and include amongst others, adult acne, fibroid tumors, excessive hair growth in women, pre-menstrual syndrome, bloating, moodiness, menopausal symptoms and complications, depression and reproductive cancers. Unfortunately, estrogen dominance is not limited to women. It is more and more common to witness the feminization of men in the modern world including changes in the fat muscle ratio, fatty deposits resembling women,(breast-like fat deposition, belly fat, increased hip girth), small and shrunken testes in men, undescended testes, smaller penises in male newborns, decreased sperm count in all men world-wide - approximately 50% reduction in two generations. It is common knowledge that 20 to 25% of American couples are infertile. These compounds are also implicated in obesity, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. For more information please refer to: Doris J. Rapp, M.D., Our Toxic World - A Wake Up Call. Chemicals Damage Your Body, Brain, Behavior and Sex and Mark Schauss, MBA, DB, Achieving Victory Over A Toxic World.



Environmental Concerns Abound with PVC

PVC also leaches cadmium, a toxic heavy metal. The production of PVC is highly dangerous to workers and toxic to the environment. Its disposal is likewise environmentally disastrous - whether by incineration or burial. In addition, the bottled water industry is very poorly regulated - due to the huge power of industry - and even more poorly controlled via supervision and inspections. Consequently, bottled water may be of no better purity or even more contaminated than tap water. Some bottled water has also tested to be simply tap water in a toxic plastic container. Ecologically, bottled water is a disaster. Literally mountains of plastic bottles must be disposed. There are huge islands of plastics floating around the Earth's oceans. So, not only is there an environmental cost to making these plastics (out of a non-renewable oil resource and with a plethora of toxic chemicals) but the Earth is left with non-biodegradable mountains of garbage. There is even a movement to clean up the tons of plastic bottles left by the climbers of Mount Everest. In addition, the unregulated bottling of underground rivers and aquifers has resulted in the draining of some of these aquifers with the resulting 'downstream' consequences. This theft of public resources for private gain became a heated and turning point political issue in Bolivia and has become a political issue here in the US in certain counties in Minnesota. It will undoubtedly become a growing political issue worldwide.



Chlorination

Dangerous Chlorination By-Products

Chlorine is dangerous in nature because it reacts with organic matter to form disinfection byproducts called trihalomethanes (THMs) including chloramines. THMs are carcinogenic and are also implicated in cardiovascular disease. This makes me wonder how much chlorine is actually contributing to the modern epidemics of the developed world - cancer and CVD? In fact, since the 1960's 'green revolution' when pesticides and herbicides (often containing chlorine-compounds) were first introduced and used to increase crop yields worldwide, cardiovascular disease has become the number one killer world-wide. What is the contribution of chlorination and chlorine-compounded chemicals (i.e., many pesticides and insecticides) to the incidence of CVD? Since this is difficult to quantify, it is important then to consider total body burden. In this light, removing the chlorine from our residential drinking water (with which we cook and clean ourselves, our clothes and our bedding) seems a wise decision. Further, due to excessive use of decontaminants such as chlorine and antibiotics in the post World War II era, resistant bacteria have developed. Also, what about the decontamination of 'emerging' pathogens such as the family of mycoplasma bacterium and the gram-negative bacterium that some European medical professionals claim may now be found in water and even in milk products? It makes you wonder, what is the real value of chlorination? Where are the long term epidemiological studies proving it does no harm? Is chlorination a safe decontaminant of our drinking water in the present, in the future?



Sanitation - One Key to Health and Longevity

Clearly, improvements in sanitation world-wide, including the chlorination of drinking water, have drastically increased infant and childhood survival rates. Implementation of sanitation principles have been instrumental in the reduction of illness and death from contaminated water sources and pollution in the last century. We now know, however, that chlorination has its downsides. Is there a better way to sanitize drinking water whereby a chemical toxic to pathogens, to humans and to the Earth can be avoided?



Alternatives to Chlorination

Chlorination does not take care of all microbial sanitation since resistant bacteria have developed as a result of its over-use as well as the abuse of antibiotics. Other biocidal modalities include:


  • ozonation (though it is not effective against giardia - apparently now common in our water systems due to the grazing of cattle on public lands),
  • distillation which kills by boiling,
  • ultraviolet light which, however, does not kill microbes embedded in dust as well as some cystic parasites,
  • filters made of materials that trap contaminants at the 1/2 micron level since common bacteria are 1 micron. However, filters cannot trap viruses which are much smaller than bacterium.

There are innovative companies out there that are working to engender solutions to our water needs. One such organization is the nonprofit, Sol y Sombra, Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Hydration Solution: Drink pure, mineralized, structured water. It is critical for good health and longevity. Period. We have researched many water purification systems and offer water purification systems. Please call The Atelier for more information.




wheat and sky

Fresh Air


Air is critical for life. Fresh air is important for our well-being. Maintaining quality indoor air can be a challenge for many reasons. For energy conservation purposes, for example, we are encouraged to keep our homes are sealed, preferably hermetically sealed. According to the Bau-Biologie principles guided by human-friendly orientation, it is preferable if a home has a controlled exchange of air, a natural regulation of humidity and appropriate ventilation.



Why can sealed buildings be a health hazard?

Sealed buildings do not act as would a healthy third skin. Unlike the skin they are designed to be impermeable. Sealed buildings can therefore become health hazards for a variety of reasons:


  • Sealed buildings trap moisture, heat, vapors, and fumes. The retention of moisture at certain temperatures will cause the growth of mold which can have very deleterious effects on health.
  • An estimated one in 15 houses in North America contains elevated radon levels - it is contained in the standard building envelope created by the use of plastics in building materials. Radon is a radioactive gas and is a health hazard particularly as related to lung cancer.
  • All materials derived from petrochemicals will off-gas into the indoor air, causing air contamination.
  • The insulation typically used in home construction releases particulate matter and gaseous contaminants, including formaldehyde.
  • Through the use of combustion appliances and a lack of understanding of air circulation and needs, completely sealed homes often lack fresh oxygen to compensate for the burning of fuels which consume oxygen while releasing CO2 into the air. Occupants can become lethargic, depressed, fatigued, confused and short of memory and breath as they are starved for oxygen


A Breathing House

A breathing house provides a healthier living environment compared to a non-breathing house for many reasons. A breathing house:


  • allows fumes and vapors which are harmful to humans such as VOCs and radioactive radon gas to escape into the environment
  • has walls that absorb excess humidity produced by inhabitants and plants preventing condensation and risk of mold infestation (a significant health risk)
  • has walls which absorb and release heat
  • allows for air exchange - ventilation of stale or indoor air, prevention of stale air pockets, intake of fresh air as well as circulation of air through the building - with isolation of fumes from combustible appliances to vent directly to the exterior
  • is less likely to have negative air pressure created by air exhausting fans, furnaces, and appliances, which could draw up stale or contaminated air from crawl spaces, interior of walls, garages, basements.

Housecleaning Surprise


When I first realized the impact of modern chemicals on health, I cleaned my home of chemicals products under the sinks and within the living area of the house. Compared to other homes, we used many fewer toxic products but the collection was still considerable. I did not clean out the garage though - old paint tins, gas-powered lawnmower, garden chemicals, etc. I thought I'd done a commendable job until some years later. I decided to rid the garage of all chemicals and store toxic products outside. As I was finally sweeping up my son walked through and asked me what I'd done because something felt so different. It made it very clear to me that these old paint tins and all those bottles of garden chemicals were off-gassing enough to effect our health. That was further confirmed once these products were contained in an unattached outside storage closet. Upon opening the closet doors, a 'cloud' of chemical vapors is released. The smell was nauseating. I eventually eliminated all toxic garden and most cleaning products. Three years ago, since I had not touched the remaining allopathic products in my medicine cabinet - the rubbing alcohol, the Neosporin, etc. I boxed them all up and stored them in the garage in an airtight box. A couple months later, upon opening the box, fumes spewed out. I disposed of them too.


ONE MONTH CHALLENGE


Box up your household poisons in airtight containers. Replace with unscented, human and environmentally friendly products. Use nothing with fragrance in the house or on your body for one month. Open the containers. Take a few deep sniffs. Now, do you really want to be breathing in that?


Easy Fresh Air Solution: Remove toxic consumer products from the home, and open your windows for at least some time everyday.


For the ultimate in clean air, The Healing Atelier recommends the Nikken air purification system especially


  • for people with respiratory and heart conditions
  • or people with depressed immune systems, auto-immune diseases, other chronic health conditions
  • any home where air quality is compromised (mold history, carpeted homes, new and manufactured homes, etc.)
  • for nighttime use
  • to enhance the beneficial effects of a sleep sanctuary.

Please contact The Atelier for more information.



Murky Matter


"Matter" refers to materials used to build a home, including construction materials, flooring, piping, paints and other finishes, and adhesives. These items greatly impact air quality, water quality (i.e.., piping soldered with lead!), humidity levels, heat absorption, and the livability of a home. Modern construction materials are increasingly fabricated of materials that create toxic fumes, including things such as plastics, glues, and radioactive gypsum. According to Bau-Biologie, construction materials should be able to breath and release moisture, and should not create toxic fumes or be radioactive.


Generally, the worst of the construction toxicity usually dissipates within a six month period, although some substances will continue to off-gas thereafter. Thereafter indoor air quality is most affected by what inhabitants bring into the house - including new paint and furniture finishes, synthetic throw rugs, furniture, drapes and clothes impregnated with fire-retardants or formaldehyde, bleaching and cleaning chemicals, insecticides, fabric softener, hairspray, perfume, permanent or dry-erase pens, air fresheners, and plastic products that off-gas.



Drywall

Drywall, also known as sheetrock and gypsum board, is fabricated from natural gypsum, a mineral extracted in open mines. The gypsum is contained between two sheets of cardboard. Sometimes the cardboard is made with recycled newspaper which may be embedded with ink releasing VOCs. For the chemically sensitive, gypsum board may be sealed to prevent off gassing of these inks. Many inks are now soy based and less toxic than inks formerly derived from petrochemicals. (That is not to mention, however, the environmental impact of soy - almost all soy is now genetically modified and is cultivated using copious amounts of insecticides and pesticides.) Though mining gypsum creates environmental damage, in general, natural gypsum is a superior construction product over industrial gypsum, from the point of view of human health.



Industrial gypsum

Industrial gypsum is fabricated from the waste product of fertilizer production and the collection of chimney waste and flue gases. Needless to say, these materials are highly toxic to building inhabitants unless sealed. Further, the disposal of industrial gypsum is an environmental hazard. There has been an uproar in the US about toxic gypsum board sourced from China. It was discovered that this Chinese product contained toxic sulfur which sickened many people whose homes were constructed with this board. It apparently killed 10 infants at a military base where the walls were constructed of gypboard from China.



Synthetic insulation

Synthetic insulation off gasses a variety of chemicals depending on its composition: urea-formaldehyde, dioxin, polystyrene and polyurethane as well as other chemicals added to the mix. Products containing formaldehyde are particularly hazardous since they are ubiquitous in the building industry and are dangerous to production personnel, installers and the end-user. Formaldehyde is particularly difficult to process by the liver causing a plethora of symptomatology. It often deposits in the brain increasing risk of neurological problems. The glues and adhesives used to contain the insulation are likewise toxins to human metabolism. Blown-in foam insulation may off gas only negligible amounts once cured but it may contain hydrochoroflouorocarbons which are implicated in the depletion of the Earth's ozone level.



Fiberglass Insulation

There is a particular danger with fiberglass insulation in that in addition to releasing gaseous contaminants, it releases minute particles of glass which when inhaled especially during production and installation, results in lung damage - somewhat like asbestos. Fiberglass insulation should be completely sealed within the wall structure. There is the risk in homes with inadequate or inappropriate air circulation for the minute glass particles of the insulation to be sucked into the main body of the house where they are then respired into the lungs to become lodged in the sensitive mucous membranes, not unlike asbestos fibers.



Paint and Wall Paper

Wall paper and paint can be fabricated with natural compounds that are hygroscopic and allow walls to breath. However, most commercially available paints, wallpapers and the glues used to adhere them to walls now incorporate synthetics, plasticizers, fungicides and other biocidal agents and/or vinyl for the purposes of waterproofing, to facilitate application, to prevent molding and infestations, to hasten drying, to provide and highlight decorative features and for economy of manufacturing. Though these may be desirable features, the solvents, toluene, formaldehyde, benzene, xylene and synthetic pigments release neurotoxic, endocrine disrupting and carcinogenic volatile organic compounds for an indefinite period of time. Vinyl wall coverings and plasticizers added to paints prevent walls from breathing, even if the walls themselves are naturally hygroscopic (i.e., this beneficial feature is lost once the substructure is covered with non-breathing compounds.)


On the other hand, paints and wall coverings can serve the purpose of sealing out odors and impurities from toxic building materials in the substructures. Vapor retarders block outgassing and may be useful to seal formaldehyde and VOC emitting construction materials.



Green Sealed

Paints compounded with natural materials such as clay, milk and lime are available for the chemically sensitive. Low and zero VOC paints are now widely available though other compounds in the paints may pose health hazards. The Materials Safety Data Sheet may or may not list all ingredients. It is wisest to look for products that are 'Green Sealed' since they must meet specific standards that include low VOC and exclusion of 5 heavy metals and 21 toxic compounds that otherwise are commonly incorporated into these products.



Carpets Capers - Don't let their comfort fool you.

Carpets as commonly manufactured today are serious health hazards negatively impacting household air quality. Modern carpets and carpet padding, especially rebond type padding, are made with or sprayed with as many as 100 man-made chemicals all of which interfere with normal human physiology. Carpets and carpet padding are comprised of synthetic fibers spun from petrochemicals, often held together and installed with more petrochemically derived chemical concoctions including formaldehyde and styrene containing glues. With everyday wear as the fibers breakdown, the carpet off-gases continuously. Most carpets that are commercially available including those fabricated with natural fibers such as wool, cotton, bamboo, and grasses, are also sprayed with or have embedded into their fibers fungicides, pesticides (against moths), PBECs (fire retardants) and stain resistant chemicals. They are now mostly backed with man-made, synthetic rubber. The synergistic effects of these chemicals in addition to the formation of additional chemicals as a result of human metabolism, has never been studied and is poorly understood. Furthermore, carpets as a rule whether of natural or synthetic fibers provide fertile territory where mites, dirt, animal dander, dust, bacteria, fleas, pollens and chemical residues and heavy metals from soles of shoes lodge and/or propagate. Additionally, carpet cleaning products and odor removers, may react with the chemical fibers of the carpet itself releasing unforeseen VOCs - which are not human-friendly. These chemicals and irritants can cause immediate reactions such as rashes, asthma, headaches, confusion, difficulty breathing, eye reddening and irritation, confusion, lack of concentration. Due to constant exposure, they can contribute significantly to the total toxic body burden. Over time, a 'kitchen-sink' soup of chemicals ends up sloshing around in the body results in increasingly more complex and serious ailments, including cancer.


After my children's high school was renovated and expanded, there were carpeted class rooms I could not enter without wearing a mask. The students, according to my daughter, complained of headaches, poor attention and general malaise when studying in these rooms where the windows were also sealed shut. What a pity the local school board administration was not aware of Bau-Biology. Building child-friendly, healthy spaces is critical for optimal learning. With their faster metabolism and cellular growth rates and lesser weight than adults, children are considerably more vulnerable to environmental toxins. Dr. Doris Rapp, an authority in environmental medicine, author and speaker, (now retired) addresses this particular issue in "Is This Your Child's World?" It is a shame that we, as a society, don't take the extra precautions needed to protect the precious health of the youngest amongst us.



PVC - Polyvinyl chloride flooring

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) as vinyl floor covering and as a component in carpets has no redeeming factors from either an environmental or human health perspective. PVC is synthesized from ethylene dichloride, asbestos, heavy metal stabilizers (tin, barium, zinc, lead and cadmium), anti-static, antioxidant and brightening compounds. The manufacture of PVC is highly toxic to both the environment and to factory workers. Likewise, the disposal of PVC cannot be done in an environmentally-safe fashion. In particular, the chloride in polyvinyl chloride is highly reactive resulting in organochlorines, is unknown in nature and therefore not readily biodegradable, and is toxic even in small quantities. PVC silently off gasses toxic chemicals including vinyl chloride. PVC-made housing materials clog landfills, infinitely slowly releasing their toxic formulations and when incinerated, release carcinogenic dioxin - for which there is not safe human exposure level. Carpets incorporating PVC off-gas toxic fumes continuously as the fibers breakdown. Furthermore, being synthetic, synthetic carpets establish an imbalance in the ionic atmosphere by eliminating healthful negative ions. In summary, carpets made from PVC contribute to general malaise, to liver, skin, lung, bone, kidney, heart and neurological damage, birth defects (teratogenic) - ergo, endocrine toxicity and reproductive problems, and have no place in an environmentally conscientious building. In fact, PVC has been banned in some European communities.


I learned while interviewing a new client that she her third son, now a young adult, suffers autistic-like symptoms. Her oldest sons are healthy and, in fact, one is unusually talented winning awards and acclaim. And her fourth child, a daughter, is also healthy. My client related the story that when she was in her fourth month of pregnancy with this son, her home was re-carpeted. Because the smell of off-gassing was so strong and nauseating her, she did not stay in the house the first few days after installation but moved back in within the week - in spite of persistent chemical smells. She swears that it was this poisoning that effected, in utero, the brain development of her third child. This mother's gut reaction was right on, in my books. Unfortunately, at the time, she did not have the information she needed to protect herself and her baby's health.


Many chemicals used to fabricate carpets are known teratogens. This is further substantiated by the research of Mark Schauss, MBA, DB. To save the life of his daughter who was suffering incessant seizures, Dr. Schauss spent more than a decade researching such chemicals and their effects on humans. Check out his book: Achieving Victory Over A Toxic World.


Our hope is that legislation will be passed to make manufacturers responsible for ensuring that their products do not produce toxic fumes.



Noisy Noise


Sound can impact health significantly. Peaceful sounds can calm the nervous system and help people to relax, while irritating sounds can damage the ears and the nervous system, indirectly affecting health by causing stress.


The following types of sound can be an issue:


  • Particularly loud or sharp sounds, for example, the impact of a falling object, or a piece of nearby equipment suddenly turning on. Unexpected loud sounds can injure the ear because it does not have time to adjust to the change in noise level.
  • Chronically elevated noise levels; for example, factory noise or loud music.
  • Moderately elevated volume on a headset - even if the volume does not seem overly loud, a headset funnels the sound into the ear, causing damage at lower decibel levels.
  • Chronic background noise that is of an irritating, distracting, or indefinable nature - such as white noise - because it requires effort to screen out.
  • Stressful sounds - even if sounds are not loud, sounds such as sirens or angry conversations can cause stress due to what they signify.

To learn how you can protect your hearing, tune into the up-coming presentation on The Ear: Noise and its Impact.



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