By Paige R. Jacques
Did you know that allergists claim that up to 50 percent of illness is caused (or worsened) by indoor pollution?
Did you also know that the federal Environmental Protection Agency states that 65 percent of our homes or buildings are polluted – sometimes six to ten times higher than city air pollution?
Some health risks are avoidable because we know about them and make the choice to avoid the risk. And other health risks we simply choose to accept because to do otherwise would unacceptably restrict our ability to lead our lives the way we wish.
Then there are the risks we don’t know much about. We might choose to avoid these risks if we had the opportunity to make an informed choice. Environmental pollution is one of these. In the last decade a growing body of scientific evidence has shown that our homes and workspaces can be more seriously polluted than urban outdoor areas. Since we now spend about 90 percent of our time indoors, this pollution can present significant health challenges. This is by no means a “doom and gloom” scenario, rather an effort to educate ourselves to better live full, fruitful lives.
The International Institute of Building Biology and Ecology (IBE) was founded to address the vast need for informed choices about worsening indoor environment health concerns. Today, Building Biology is an important aspect of European design and architecture. It is now becoming popular in the United States as we struggle to provide healthy environments in an ever-evolving indoor lifestyle. A certified Building Biologist has studied the relationship between the built environment and health, and applies this knowledge of living and working spaces to natural solutions that foster a healthy environment.
Following are some fundamental ways to promote a healthy living environment:
7 Ways to Good Indoor Air Quality (IAQ):
- Reduce dust mites and animal dander
• Wash sheets weekly in 130°F
• Vacuum mattress, chairs and carpeting
• Replace pillows every five years
• Install solid surface floors in bedrooms
- Control moisture sources
• Vent bathrooms, kitchens, clothes dryer, stove hood and toilets directly outdoors
• Fix water leaks and clean up after floods
• Ventilate in cold weather
- Eliminate combustion gases
• Use outdoor air supply for fireplaces, wood stoves
• Use outside vented stove hood when using gas stove
• Use sealed, power vented water heaters and furnaces
- Eliminate toxic pesticides
• Eliminate highly toxic pesticides
• Discard synthetics exposed to pesticides
- Eliminate volatile compounds
• Store toxic/volatile compounds out of the living space
• Use safe paints and sealers (No VOC’s)
• Open windows to handle high polluting events, such as the use of non-eco home cleaning products, hobbies, painting
- Reduce particulates
• Replace filters regularly – use as high an efficiency filter as possible
• Use hard floor surfaces rather than wall-to wall carpet
• Use a true HEPA filter equipped vacuum cleaner
• Open windows daily
• In highly polluted areas, provide a minimum amount of outside air by using whole house mechanical ventilation
• Much of an indoor environment may emit gasses due to chemical construction from cabinets, furniture, carpet made of synthetic toxic compounds (formaldehyde, PVC, etc.)
7 Ways to lower Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR):
- Radio frequency waves in your home
• Minimize cell phone usage; use air-flow hands-free device
• Eliminate cordless phones that constantly transmit
• Turn off or eliminate wireless connections – home automation, baby monitors
• Eliminate microwave ovens
- External sources –Radio Frequencies
• Increase distance from cell, radio and TV towers
• Use HF shielding materials
- Reduce electric fields
• Unplug electrical devices within 6 feet of bed.
• Eliminate electric blanket, pads, and waterbed heaters
• Eliminate extension cords, power strips near bed
• Turn off circuits that raise Body Voltage
- Reduce magnetic fields
• Unplug electronics
• Use flat-screened TV’s and monitors
• Keep distance from sources
- Static electric fields
• Avoid using Teflon, PVC and plastics like Saran wrap
• Wear natural fiber clothing
- Geopathic Magnetic Fields
• Avoid metal bedsprings
• Sleep in the N-S direction with head to the north
• Do not sleep in Geopathic stress zones
• Increase natural light (20 min per day)
• Purchase special full-spectrum lights.
Sources: The International Institute of Building Biology and Ecology (IBE) and the Environmental Protection Agency
Paige R. Jacques is a Certified Environmental Consultant and practicing Building Biologist. He has lived in Boulder, CO for 20 years and practices what he preaches. He has earned both a BBA and MBA. To learn more, visit: www.ecoinspection.com.