By Shicana Allen, © 2016
Chemtrails, cellphone towers, the Porter Ranch gas leak, Fukushima radiation traveling from Japan; pesticides & GMOs in the food supply. Everyday, consumers worry about and try to protect themselves from toxins and poisons invading their worlds. But what if significant culprits in the overall declining health of Americans reside right under our very roofs, in our homes and surrounding our beds? Unlike the externally-caused factors listed above, we have more control over our personal dwellings and are independently able to improve conditions that have a negative impact.
I grew up hearing smog alerts on the news, along with official recommendations that people curtail outdoor exercise and try to stay indoors on high-alert days. Little did I know that, within the houses where I grew upóbuilt in the Fifties and Sixties there should have been internal smog alerts on a constant basis. Solvents, sealers & stains, paints and upholstery, volatile organic compounds, molds & fungi, asbestos, natural gas and its components, pthalates found in plastics and artificial fragrances, and copious amounts of formaldehyde were continuously off-gassing into the air around us, combining to form a toxic soup that my family was absorbing and inhaling as we went about our daily routines. Even before cell phones and cell towers came into existence, we were being bathed in dangerous, potent electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and radiation (EMR) invisible to the naked eye.
The International Institute for Building-Biology & Ecology (IBE), a wellspring of study and research, was founded on the principles of the German movement Bau-Biologie. This is the study of designing, constructing, decorating, furnishing, testing, and cleaning up the interior spaces in which most of us spend our lives. Brought to North America by renowned architect Helmut Ziehe in 1986, the organization, now based in Santa Fe, NM, offers certification courses in three foundational areas it focuses on: 1) Electro-magnetic Fields & Radiation; 2) Indoor Air and Water Quality; and 3) Natural, Healthy Building Materials.
Building-Biology can be thought of as the antidote to Sick Building Syndrome, a condition I was introduced to years ago in my early studies about health, but a term I’ve rarely heard since, It seems to have been swept under the proverbial rug (not withstanding that carpeting can be a dangerous floor covering). When the Twin Towers collapsed on 9-11, my interest was again piqued at reports that the pulverized office buildings and their chemical-laden contents were being inhaled by First Responders and other emergency personnel, who developed severe, often incurable breathing problems.
In 2013, Chinese-manufactured laminate flooring sold by a prominent U.S. distributor was found falling far short of the EPAs CARB-2 (California Air Resources Board) safety requirements for formaldehyde fumes. Thousands of consumers were being contaminated in their own homes. Lawsuits and replacement programs ensued, but to this day the problem remains unresolved for many homeowners.
This one incident sadly failed to expose even the tip of the toxic iceberg. Conventional structures are routinely built, coated, treated, and insulated with methods and materials that injure and deplete our immune systems. Electromagnetic fields and other types of radiation emanate from power lines, electrical wiring, and a wide array of electronic devices, all of which bombard the sensitive human brain and body. Stuffed and upholstered items (mattresses, pillows, baby cribs and sleepwear, sofas), as well as circuitry and computer & TV casings, are treated with carcinogenic fire retardants (PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers). Formaldehyde seeps from clothing and bed linens, furniture and cabinetry, flooring, particleboard, plywood, and a wide variety of vinyl-based decor. Lawns and gardens are sprayed and spruced with pesticides, weed killers, and fertilizers.
Ironically, the Green building movement sometimes focuses on environmental solutions that may be detrimental to human health. Solar panels, while an important step in the trend away from fossil fuels, can utilize invertors and wireless monitoring systems that challenge individuals sensitive to EMR and EMFs.
Further, the LEED program, which certifies buildings for being sustainable and resource-friendly, emphasizes energy-efficient HVAC and lighting systems. These fill the wires with VLF frequencies (dirty electricity). While tight sealing of walls, ceilings, and floors to avoid the loss of heating and cooling is good for stabilizing temperatures and lowering utility bills, the exchange of fresh air is vastly inhibited, allowing toxic chemicals to be trapped in the building.†
* In the US, 45% of the population suffers from at least one chronic illness.
* The Environmental Protection Agency has determined that indoor air quality is 2-5X more polluted than outdoor environments. In some cases, measurements have shown as much as 100 times the toxicity.
* According to the World Health Organization, indoor air pollution is responsible for 3% of the global burden of disease. In addition, the International Agency for Research on Cancer attributes 80% of all cancers to environmental factors.
* Today, humans spend as much as 90% of their lives indoors.
Unsurprisingly, there’s an expanding subculture of afflicted individuals who have developed ìmultiple chemical sensitivityî (MCS) and ìelectromagnetic hypersensitivityî (EHS) as a result of  short- and long-term exposure to indoor pollution. Symptoms may include asthma & allergies,  insomnia, sinusitis, headaches, eye issues, dizziness & fatigue, nausea & digestive ailments, joint & muscle pain, and memory or concentration problems.
Many consumers, seeking relief or practicing preventative medicine, are consulting with “healthy building” experts certified to inspect and evaluate structures in search of solutions. Aware of the connection between ill health and household toxins, some doctors, architects, contractors, engineers, electricians, design consultants, landscapers, and other professionals are jumping on the Building Biology bandwagon, educating themselves to serve a growing environmentally-ill clientele. Detoxifying our bodies as a method of healing and disease prevention has become popular. Now people are realizing the importance of detoxifying our indoor environments, too.
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