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Health Enhancing Homes

The Living Home


Buildings as a third skin?


In Bau-Biologie, we envisage humans wearing multiple layers of skin. The first skin is the actual living organ that contains the body, provides protection from the elements and which helps control the internal body's environment by releasing heat, moisture and dissolved toxins. (Of course it is instrumental in other functions such as Vitamin D production and sound perception but that is not the subject of this discussion.) To carry out these functions optimally, the skin must be able to 'breathe'. In order to do so, it cannot be clogged with petrochemical based personal care products and its natural functions need support. Ideally, our clothes, which are our second skin, aid us in this process. By wearing clothes made of natural fibers that breathe and which do not attract positive ions, we nurture our first skin and enhance its functions.


Since we in the western world spend most of our lives inside structures, buildings are seen by Bau-biologists as our third skins. Building structures therefore also need to reflect the biological needs of their human inhabitants. Imagine putting an aquarium for tropical fish next to the window in the winter? Or, imagine building a bird cage but of glass so that no air could be exchanged? As a third skin, breathing buildings are air and vapor-permeable structures that provide temperature insulation, air circulation and ventilation, and allow for the exhaust of fumes, heat and moisture to prevent moisture build-up, mold growth and containment of noxious airborne chemicals. Such a structure would functions like our first skin.




earth friendly living space

Air, Matter, Water, Energy


The four elements which effect the Living House are air, water, matter and energy. These elements are also found in nature where they follow logical, predictable, natural cycles. As a model for the breathing house concept, these elements effect buildings in likewise logical, predictable manners. When the elements and their characteristics and natural cycles are not taken into consideration in design, structure and construction of buildings, the safety and health of its inhabitants is compromised. The four elements require purification, circulation, ventilation and/or containment in a human-friendly building.


    Air

Take food away from us, we can survive weeks. Take away water, we survive days. Take away air! We die in a few minutes. The air we breathe becomes a part of our every cell. When our cells are well oxygenated we experience robust health. When we breathe in clean, unadulterated air, our bodies thank us. It is a rare opportunity to partake of such air these days, however. The air surrounding us is ever more polluted from production of modern living. Millions of tons of industrial chemicals, pesticides, insecticides, petrochemicals, mercury, lead, cadmium and other heavy metals are released into the earth's atmosphere yearly. Air pollution knows no boundaries. We therefore need to be sure that the air we breathe, especially while sleeping, is clean and uncontaminated.


Fresh, pure air is extremely important to the body, since it provides oxygen, which is required for many vital processes, and also because, like water, can act as a "sponge" for the body - absorbing toxins from the body's skin and lungs. Since air has a limited carrying capacity, dirty air is already "full" in a certain way - it's capacity to absorb more pollutants is limited, and it is possible that it will actually deposit pollutants instead, especially in the lungs, which act as our body's air filter. The lungs rely upon fresh air to detoxify themselves and the body. Polluted air can irritate the delicate mucous lining of the lungs, cause the airways to constrict, limit oxygen intake, reduce the rate of detoxification, cause fatigue and a variety of other symptoms depending on the strength and chemical composition of the air pollutant. Chronic irritation of the airways can lean to wheezing, shortness of breath, bronchitis, sinusitis, asthma, allergies, and other respiratory difficulties.



    Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air pollution can actually more of a health concern than is outdoor air pollution. Most conventional building materials are treated with one chemical or another that is likely to off-gas. For example, the vapors emitting from carpets are known to cause seizures in some small children. Such vapors and mold and mildew growth contribute to sick building syndrome, or sick home syndrome.


Contaminated building materials are not the whole story, however. The worst of the vapors from paints, glues, solvents, muds, carpets, particle board, and other construction materials dissipate within six months. It is building inhabitants who unwittingly contribute to indoor air pollution thereafter. Whatever is brought into a home including furniture should be constructed of unadulterated natural materials. Furniture finishes and upholstered furniture can off-gas for years, for example. It is also our use and storage of many consumer goods that negatively affects air quality in our homes. It is unbeknownst to most consumers that many of the household and personal care products they commonly use contain one or more toxic ingredients and most are simply a concoction from the chemistry lab. Many of these products, even with caps tightly closed, off-gas and contribute to indoor air pollution.


Most people are unaware of the quality of air around them. We have become so used to deodorants, perfumes, room deodorizers, carpet deodorizers, chemical cleansers, pet deodorizers, scented shampoos, scented candles, scented clothes, colognes, aromatic soaps, potpourris, fragrant air fresheners, deodorizing plug-ins and on and on that many people have a diminished sense of smell. The harsh chemical vapors in these consumer products block olfactory receptor sites - the olfactory system is responsible for your sense of smell. To address this deficit, perfume manufacturers are now adding "sensitizers", which are chemicals agents designed to irritate your nervous system, to perfumes and colognes so that we can smell them better!


Since a building's inhabitants, through their choice of cleaning, personal care products, furniture, and household items, contribute more to indoor air pollution than do building materials there is an easy solution.


Solution: Rid your home of noxious, chemical products. If you can't pronounce the words on the label, it is probably trash-worthy. Learn how to use or make human-friendly cleaning products. Enjoy organic personal care products.


Learn More



    Matter

Matter as referred to by Bau-Biologists means those materials used to build a home including wood, piping, wall board, cement, paints and other finishes, flooring, tiles, carpeting, glues and adhesives, insulation and roofing. The matter of a home greatly impacts air quality, water quality (e.g. piping soldered with lead) household humidity levels, heat absorption and the livability of a home. Modern construction materials are fabricated more and more of non-natural materials - petrochemically derived plastics, formaldehyde based glues, radioactive synthetic gypsum, etc.


According to Bau-Biologie, construction materials should be:


  • uncontaminated
  • not radioactive
  • able to breathe
  • able to release and absorb moisture
  • made of materials that do not off-gas VOCs or other noxious fumes and
  • as close to nature as possible.

It is worth noting, however, that though building materials are ofttimes toxic, and clearly it is preferable for many reasons to live in a house made of non-toxic materials, the worst of the airborne toxicity usually dissipates within a six month period. After that, indoor air quality is most affected by other matter brought into the house by inhabitants. Most consumer products these day are highly toxic and off-gas for extended periods or until used up - whether it be the plastic cases of computers, chlorine bleach, air fresheners, plastics of toys and children's furniture, foam stuffing of furniture, laundry and cleaning products, etc. Subsequently, due to the high level of VOCs in most homes, air quality is dangerously compromised.


Learn more



    Water

Water is ubiquitous with life though only two percent of the Earth's water is potable. Many people have never tasted pure spring water fresh from its source - delivered straight up from nature. Unfortunately, as we continue to pollute and contaminate our waterways, lakes, seas and oceans, less and less of Earth's water will be potable.



    Why is water so important to health?

Quality water is crucial to health because the body is over 70% water, and water performs countless functions in the body. For example, water:


  • Transports nutrients and other matter throughout the body.
  • Provides the medium through which electrical impulses can pass.
  • Assists with the digestive process.
  • Is key to blood pressure and temperature control.
  • Cleanses our cells and the intracellular matrix.
  • Acts as a universal solvent to remove toxins from the body.

Dehydration, on the other hand, can cause or contribute to a plethora of symptoms and conditions including:


  • back pain
  • joint pain, stiffness and discomfort
  • sinus problems
  • headaches
  • digestive disruption
  • asthma and breathing difficulties
  • irritability, confusion
  • depression and brain dysfunction
  • sleeping disorders
  • obesity
  • stress and fatigue
  • kidney disorders
  • cardiac and blood conditions
  • blood pressure dysregulation
  • almost any pain, discomfort or disease

(For more information on the importance of water, please refer to Water: Rx for a Healthier Pain-Free Life and Your Body's Many Cries for Water by F. Batmanghelidj, M.D.)


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 intake plenty of the universal solvent, pure water.



    Water Quality

There are many aspects to water quality:


  • The number and type of contaminants in the water - added fluoride, disinfectants, petrochemicals, naturally occurring fluoride and arsenic and other materials, leads and heavy metals due to pipes, plastics from pipes.
  • The number and type of micro-organisms in the water - bacteria, fungi, cysts, protozoa, etc.
  • Turbidity and dissolved solids: We are adapted to drinking clear water, not muddy water.
  • The hard minerals dissolved in the water.
  • The oxygen dissolved in the water - this naturally settles out if water is allowed to sit for a long period; water is naturally oxygenated when a stream tumbles over rocks.
  • The electrical/magnetic charge on the water - this charge can cause the molecules to group into certain patterns, believed to be of health significance.

Ideally both drinking and bathing water are free of contaminants. While more than 60,000 chemicals are commonly used in the United States, only 91 contaminants were regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act of Water in 2000. Agricultural runoff, insecticides, pesticides and hormone and antibiotic laden animal waste, industrial chemicals and, more notably of late, pharmaceuticals, contribute to the contamination of our waterways and ultimately, of our drinking water. For example, percholate, a rocket fuel accelerant and atrazine, an herbicide banned in the EEC, are commonly found in our drinking water.


Water purity must take into consideration not only the original state of the water being treated, but also the chemicals used to sanitize and purify it as well as the disinfection byproducts. In fact, as science progresses and we learn more, we begin to see problems in our current methods of sanitizing water.


What about water quality in most U.S. homes?


"Except for cigarette smoking we haven't identified anything else that accounts for potentially as much cancer as drinking water with chlorination," Dr. Robert Harris, Associate Director of the Toxic Chemical program for the Environmental Defense Fund, a non-profit consumer group, in What the Medical Establishment Won't Tell You.


"You have a one in six chance that you are being exposed to neurologically damaging levels of lead in your tap water." Richard Mass, Director of the Environmental Quality Institute, University of North Carolina, Asheville


"Approximately 50 million Americans are exposed to potentially harmful levels of hazardous materials whenever they open their faucet. A study of tap water samples revealed that 45,000 infants were drinking reconstituted infant formula made with contaminated and fluoridated water. Half of those babies were swallowing four to nine chemicals in every bottle. The most recent EPA estimate is that more than 43 million Americans drink water with high lead levels." Self Magazine, "Is your drinking water safe?"


"In one of the most comprehensive drinking water studies ever, the Natural Resources Defense Council analyzed EPA records and found (in 1991-92) 43% of all water supplies violated federal health standards. There were 250,000 violations affecting more than 120 million people" USA Today


"A study published in the Journal of Environmental Sciences in 2010 found that swimming in chlorinated pools posed an unacceptable cancer risk." Mercola.com - An excellent resource for articles on health, exercise, water, and healthy living in layman's terms.


Learn more about water quality and what you need to know to protect yourself.




    Energy

There are several types of energy, some of which are beneficial to our health, and some of which are not. The effect upon our health depends on whether our bodies are adapted to the type of energy.


  • Light - light can be very beneficial, in the right types, amounts, and places. Sunlight is crucial for our ability to form vitamin D, for setting our biological clock, assisting our bodies in overcoming pathogens, feeding our brain with energy through the eyes and of course providing warmth.
  • Radioactivity, ionizing radiation, has long been correlated to cancer and other ill effects. The effects of non-ionizing radiation are just now being better understood.
  • Air Ionization - this refers to the electrical charge on air molecules. 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.
  • Electrical radiation - The radiation created by an electrical system has been shown to affect health. Low frequency radiation created by high power lines, transmission lines as well as faulty household wiring have been implicated in childhood leukemia and other cancers.
  • Electromagnetic radiation - Our bodies are adapted to the earth's natural background radiation, which is 7.8 Hz. They are not adapted to other frequencies that we use for our technological solutions, such as wireless networks, telecommunications systems and military technology.

Learn more about electromagnetic fields and radiation and what you can do to protect yourself.



Sanctuary



sleep sanctuary

Why is it important to create a Sleep Sanctuary?

It is important to have the bedroom free from any type of chemical pollution and radiation because it is in the bedroom that we rest and recuperate from the day. Because our bodies act as tuning forks picking up on and synchronizing to external electrical influences, our sleep space must be free of both electrical and magnetic fields.


We have literally billions of electric functions occurring in our bodies at any one time. Measurable electrical current is registered in the semi-conductive crystalline matrix of the intercellular space as well as in nerve fiber. During the day our bodies and brains are on 'active' mode. Though we are inevitably subject to multiple and simultaneous stressors or stimuli - the radio playing, electromagnetic field of the refrigerator, cell phone tower, telephone ringing, air pollution at rush hour, indigestion from lunch, VOCs from the photocopier, formaldehyde off gassing from fiberboard in the desk, gas fumes from the stove, heavy metals and chloramines in the water just drunk - we tend to adjust to and/or withstand the daytime assault better than at night as we have developed many mechanisms to filter the assault of stimuli.


On the other hand, physiological functions are turned inward at night. It is during sleep that the body cleanses, processes and regenerates. It clears out the metabolic waste of the day and restores the reserves necessary to function the next day. To accomplish this repair work - bio-chemical, electrical and neural processes that breakdown, rearrange, restructure, replete and/or rebuild enzymes, organelles, cell walls, cellular cytoplasm, hormones and organs of our bodies - requires that sensitive cellular communication is optimally functioning and that brain and nervous system signals are clear, unambiguous Studies suggest that when we are sleeping we are 10 to 100 times more sensitive to external stimuli. We are therefore not prepared at night to deal with the same amount of miscellaneous extraneous electric, magnetic, radioactive, toxic pollution as when awake. Creating a safe sleeping environment, one free of chemical toxins and electromagnetic fields is therefore critical to sound, regenerative sleep which, in and of itself, can lead to optimal wellness.



The Sleep Hormone, Melatonin and Light

Melatonin is a hormone released by the pineal gland. Melatonin


  • sets the circadian rhythms of the body, i.e., the day and nighttime cycles
  • establishes regular sleep patterns
  • acts as an antioxidant that appears to fight cancer
  • works as a heavy metal scavenger in the brain.

The release of melatonin is determined by the light cycles of the day, with the fading of natural light triggering its release. According to Deitrich Klinghardt, MD., PhD., our bodies release melatonin between 9PM and midnight. It is during these hours exclusively that melatonin provides its antioxidant and preventative cancer roles. Exposing oneself to bright lights at night inhibits or diminishes melatonin's release. When a person sleeps in a lighted room or in one penetrated by electromagnetic radiation, melatonin levels drop dramatically. This can result in unrestful sleep, brain fog, poor concentration and memory as well as an increased risk of cancers.


Solution: Sleep in a DARK room. Use a blind to block out ambient light. Never use a night light in a child's room.


The Bed Frame

The perfect bed according to Bau-Biologie has no metal in it - either in the frame or in a box-spring - and is made of natural, breathable materials which have not been grown or treated with organophosphates (e.g. fire retardants), insecticides, pesticides, mildewcides and fungicides. The bed frame should be made of solid wood which does not conduct electric or magnetic radiation and the frame wood should be untreated (i.e., not pressure treated or painted with VOC releasing products.) Standard metal frames may act as antennae for electromagnetic frequencies and high frequency radiation both of which are detrimental to health potentially contributing to insomnia, bedwetting, increased growth rate of cancers (molds) and infectious agents and depression of the immune system.


The Mattress

Mattress materials should be made of natural latex, organic cotton and/or wool. The wool should be labeled "pure grow wool", which is not carbonized with sulphuric acid to 'clean' it nor mothproofed with chlorinated compounds which are known carcinogens. Natural latex and wool are naturally dust mite resistant and so pure grow wool mattress toppers, pillows and comforters are a good choice. The different layers of the mattress should not be held together with toxic glues in order to avoid a cloud of VOCs around the sleeping person.


Bedding

Since synthetic materials disrupt the natural ionic balance, attracting positive ions, bedding and nightwear should be made of natural fiber materials such as cotton, silk, bamboo, ramie and wool which are likewise untreated with harsh chemicals. In particular, permanent press bedding continuously releases formaldehyde vapors which may cause neurological, respiratory and sleep problems as well as thirst, watery eyes, skin irritation and asthma. Formaldehyde has also been linked to cancer.


Organic Agriculture vs. Organic Processing


It should be noted that the toxic agricultural elements remaining in a finished product made from non-organic cotton agricultural methods are trivial and usually insignificant even to the chemically sensitive. Rather, it is in the fabric production versus the agricultural process that the fibers are embedded with toxic chemicals which are designed, in one way or another, to provide consumer or manufacturing benefits. It should be noted, however, that cotton cultivation is one of the most chemical intensive crops and therefore, by choosing organic cotton, you support organic farming and its lower environmental impact.


The Bedroom and EMF

AC electric fields from indoor wiring and magnetic fields from appliances exist at night emitting unhealthy magnetic fields into the sleep zone. Though it is difficult to shield from radiation emanating from power lines and communications antennae, you can take action to minimize electric and magnetic stress in your own home. At night to avoid electrical stress, it is advised to eliminate electrical flow in the sleep area. This requires, at the least, removal of all electrical devices from the bedroom and optimally, shutting off the electrical supply to the bedroom at the outside electric panel. Alternatively, a Demand Switch, also called a Kill Switch, may be installed that will shut off the power in the bedroom area using an indoor switch. This may, however, involve extensive rewiring if the bedroom does not have its own electrical circuit in the panel.


There is also a sleep sanctuary system designed to block EMF and radiation during the critical eight hour detoxification and rebuilding period of nighttime rest. It consists of a netting material that drapes over the bed like a canopy, totally enveloping the sleep area - in other words, above the bed is totally covered and there are no spaces or cracks between the netting when it is in use. The sleep sanctuary blocks random EMFs that may originate from neighbors' wifi systems, cell phone towers, microwave ovens, electrical wiring in walls, cell phones that are not turned off at night and those (such as the iPhone) which act as relay transmission stations, etc.


Renovation and New Construction


If you are considering remodeling your home or new home construction, it is advised that you incorporate Bau-Biologie principles into your plans and building. Construction of a healthy living home poses some particular challenges. These can be categorized into two sections:


  • work site management and
  • product quality control.

Work Site Management

Work site management of healthy homes requires precise direction and clear communication between all worksite, management and owner parties. Special project procedures, rules and understandings should be in writing and address the following: quality control measures; site sanitation requirements; prohibited item; materials and products (such as gas heaters in enclosed areas); signage; special materials management rules; preferred green or eco-friendly products; procedures for worksite education, spillage and accidents; product substitution; quality control testing and contract close-out. The idea is to be pro-active, to anticipate potential mistakes and road blocks and provide direction in advance - so that there are no irreparable errors during the construction process.


Product Quality Control

Product quality control rests on precisely designating the specific materials to be used at all phases of construction - right down to the adhesives, glues, sealants, cleaning products. Request a Materials Safety Data Sheet for all materials and products that are on-site. Require any special, other-than manufacturer instructions for installation or application to be provided in writing. Product or materials substitution procedures must be explicit and understood by all.


Solution:


Before starting a construction project, we advise you consult with a Bau-Biologie Environmental Consultant to discuss optimal building design for health, and project management including Bau-Biologie principles.



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