Just as what you eat affects your health, your home environment can affect your health also! Indoor air quality is now worse than outdoor air, and we spend 90 percent of our time indoors.

Researchers have found ties to your home’s "health" and all kinds of common illnesses, such as chronic fatigue, depression, memory loss/brain fog, allergies, fibromyalgia, cancer, arthritis, dizziness, electrical sensitivities, multiple chemical sensitivities and Restless Leg Syndrome.

Sick buildings are now being inspected and treated by people trained in "Building Biology," which started in the 1970s in Germany by Dr. Anton Schneider in response to post-World War II construction building materials, methods and design. He believed it did not support the building of culture, technology or biology. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with technology he said, because it is essential to cultural activity. However, he wanted technology to be subordinate to nature, life and culture, and he sought a better way to achieve this.

Building Biology focuses on health in three ways:
By evaluating and correcting your indoor air quality, which could be affected by anything from mold, formaldehyde, pesticides, particulates or E. coli.
– Rectifying your electric and magnetic field exposure, which comes from appliances and wiring in your house and suppresses your immune system.
– Consulting on designs for "truly green" homes from an energy efficiency standpoint and a non-toxic materials perspective.

Toxic exposure
Toxins play a huge role in your health. To deal with toxins every day, your body compensates and stores them away in your fat cells to keep you safe. As an analogy for your body’s reaction to toxic exposure, think of your body as a rain barrel. If you look at the barrel from the top, you do not know how full it is. It might only be half full or a quarter from the top. However, if the barrel is almost full, and there is one more rain, or toxic exposure, the barrel overflows. You "suddenly" develop symptoms and tell the doctor they showed up two weeks ago, when in fact they have been building in your body for years.

For me, this work is personal. My exposure to mold and high electric and magnetic fields in my house and at work – and in daily living – have contributed to multiple chemical sensitivities, fatigue, memory loss/lack of concentration, a bad adrenal system, and electrical sensitivities.

Sadly, many people’s illnesses are misdiagnosed, or worse, dismissed by health care practitioners, and they are told that it is all in their head. From personal experience, I can tell you they are very real, and there are doctors who will believe you.

Toxic homes
How can your house affect your health? Just a few of the toxins that go right into your fat cells (until your rain barrel is full) include: breathing in molds, and formaldehydes from new construction or furnishings; tracking pesticides onto your carpet from outside (pesticides also attach themselves to dust); taking in carbon monoxide leaks that you can’t smell; and breathing in scented dryer sheets.

Mold is linked to such things as memory loss/brain fog, allergies, asthma and multiple chemical sensitivities, to name a few. Fifty years ago, 1 in 30 people had allergies. Today, 1 in 2.5 does.

New research is suggesting that dead mold spores can be more harmful than actively growing mold. Dead or dying mold releases more spores into the air as a self-defense mechanism. The size, shape and type of mold determines what part of the air it may be floating in and how long it will hang in the air. The smaller the mold or other particulate, the deeper into your lungs it goes. Up to 92 percent of all particulates are less than 5 microns in size. Dust mites and their feces are .5 microns in size, pesticides are .1 microns and mold spores are from 5-10 microns in size.

To help with your indoor air quality during winter months, make sure you use a furnace filter such as 3M’s Filtrete model 1250, which filters down to .3 microns, and good quality HEPA filter such as the HealthPro Series by IQAir in Switzerland.

Electromagnetic exposure
Many people are not aware of their exposure to electric and magnetic fields, which are constant stressors bombarding your body when you are asleep (trying to rejuvenate and thus most vulnerable), and they are present at all times.

Magnetic Fields have a grinding effect on your immune system, and now the EPA saying that they are harmful to your health. Produced by an electron flow (current) going through a wire, they can be measured with a Gauss meter. The strength of the magnetic field is influenced by what you have running in your house – and what your neighbors are running! You can be electrically connected to other houses on your block.

Electric fields are produced by electron separation and the exposure is measured with a voltage meter. Electric fields disturb your deep, slow-wave sleep at night. When electric fields are too high, your body does not produce enough melatonin and your immune system can be depressed, making you more susceptible to illness.

The new health threat affecting people is digital pulsed frequencies. These come from cell phones, towers, WIFI (wireless internet) and cordless phones. They use sharp on-off pulses that interfere with your body’s electromagnetic signals. Doctors and Building Biologists have researched electromagnetic exposure and indoor air quality for 30 years, but only recently have they focused on digital pulsed frequency exposure.

So which toxic exposure is going to make your rain barrel overflow? As menacing as all this sounds, there are solutions. Solutions and health come through awareness of your environment and taking action to make it healthy.

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Sharon Oleson is the owner of Green Home Inspections, offering Building Biology screenings for mold, radon, natural gas leaks, lead paint, formaldehyde and poor air or water quality in your home, as well as electromagnetic field assessments and remediation. She also consults on chemical and electrical sensitivities. Contact her at (612) 522-3082, e-mail info@greenhomeinspections.com or visit www.greenhomeinspections.com Copyright © 2005 Sharon Oleson. All rights reserved.

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