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Environmentally Healthy Homes

Environmentally Healthy Home Consultants

By Susan Bahl, © Copyright 2008.

Environmentally Healthy Home Consultants Have Helped Kids With

  • Allergic reactions of all kinds
  • Asthma
  • Autism
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Seizures/Tremors
  • Hyperthyroid
  • Cancer
  • Depression
  • Digestive disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Fatigue
  • General malaise
  • Hair loss
  • Headaches
  • Joint ache
  • Learning disabilities
  • Loss of, or reduction in smelling and tasting
  • Mood swings
  • Nsausea
  • Sleep disorders
  • Rashes and skin disorders
  • Violent behavior
  • Vision

Environmentally Healthy Home Consultants Can Help In The Following Areas

Spirit: Children and youth’s natures are often distorted by the body/mind challenges caused by environmental pollution in their homes and schools.

Body: Pain, many diseases, burning eyes, sore muscles and joints, skin rashes, cramping, and diarrhea.

Mind: Thinking is difficult in environmentally polluted environments. Children & youth often appear “foggy brained”, irritable, disconnected, speech impaired, or not able to communicate needs clearly.

Emotions: Emotional overreaction can often be caused by environmental chemical pollution.

Social: Having friends is difficult when emotions, mind, and body are not harmonious.

Brief Description Of How Environmentally Healthy Home Consultants Work

  • Environmentally Healthy Home Consultants are concerned with having healthy environments for children and youth.
  • Environmentally Healthy Home Consultants help parents locate contaminants and hazards in children or youth’s home environment.
  • Environmentally Healthy Home Consultants help parents make realistic plans about what to do about toxins that are present.

Success With Environmentally Healthy Home Consultants

  • A school age child had violent outbursts due to glued down synthetic carpeting and polyurethane being applied to a gymnasium floor. The outbursts stopped when the contaminants were removed.
  • A little boy had seizures when a synthetic carpet was introduced into his home. His seizures stopped when he was out of the house. The family lawyer and parents tracked down the chemicals that were causing the problem. They discovered the carpet manufacturers were giving misleading information. The boy stopped having seizures when the carpet was removed.
  • A little girl started sleep-walking after her mother put a new comforter and new drapes into her bedroom. The mother washed all the materials to remove the stain, mold and fungal repellant, and fire retardant which had been sprayed on the material. This was not enough. The child only stopped sleep-walking when all the new materials were removed and replaced with organic, natural fibers.

Environmentally Healthy Home Consultants Are Appropriate For Ages

  • All ages

Children & Youth’s Reactions To Environmentally Healthy Homes

  • Children & youth can get frightened if they learn how contaminated their homes and schools are.
  • Children & youth’s fears are reduced when they know their parents are taking action.
  • Children can occasionally notice when contaminants are removed if they are very chemically damaged and are very sensitive.
  • Children feel more protected and relaxed.
  • They are alert, happy, compassionate, and healthier.
  • Bothersome symptoms often disappear.

Extra Care Is Needed

  • When people are in panic and fear about their household environment and the high financial costs of environmentally safe homes and schools.
  • Where the investigation is not comprehensive enough or not focused on health issues.
  • Many unethical companies are trying to make profits without concern for health issues.
  • Many companies are offering a service without having the proper training.

Contraindications: When Environmentally Healthy Home Consultants Should Be Avoided

  • None

History

  • Many ancient Romans went insane due to poisoning from lead plumbing.
  • Environmental Medicine was started in the 1930’s by Dr. William Randolf in the United States. He noticed that people were getting sick from home and workplace contamination.
  • Dr. Randolf noticed that different people often had different reactions to the same chemicals.
  • There is now a new form of medical practice called Environmental Medicine and there are currently thousands of such doctors.
  • Rachel Carson wrote a book called Silent Spring outlining the extent and effects of pesticide pollution.
  • People living in a community called Love Canal, which was built beside a chemical dump, became so ill that the government condemned all their homes.
  • In another community, Times Beach, the dumping of waste chemicals on the roads to reduce dust poisoned the community.
  • The movie, Erin Brockovich, starring Julia Roberts, recounted the true story of a power company that poisoned a community to save money.
  • Bill Moyer’s television program, Trade Secrets, documented the chemical industry’s suppression of evidence that they knowingly poisoned workers and surrounding communities.
  • Movies and television programs like these are awakening people to environmental pollution issues.
  • In many cities, families are finding high levels of lead and asbestos pollution in and around their homes. Both are very dangerous to children.
  • The combined effects of chemicals and molds are not known. What is known is that children and adults develop problems when exposed to chemical and mold contaminated environments.
  • Despite ample evidence to the contrary, government and industry (chemical, agricultural, building, and household products, etc.) have consistently denied the cause-and-effect relationship between health effects and environmental products. They have worked together to try to pass laws limiting the amount of money people can be awarded in law suits over pollution-caused health damages.
  • Industry has been effective in legally stopping government agencies from warning people about the scientific data proving a connection between health effects and chemicals.
  • As of 2007 there are still few companies offering environmentally healthy home consultant services. Most often families must hunt up specialists in each area: water, air, mold, chemicals, and electromagnetic fields, etc.
  • Consumers are asking questions about products. Manufacturers are spending billions on marketing campaigns that mislead consumers. Consumers are told that products are safe when there are no government standards or credible research. For example: Consumers are told that synthetic carpets only off-gas (releasing toxic gasses and compounds into the home/school) for 72 hours, when off-gassing could take one to two years. (An organic wool carpet does not off-gas any volatile chemicals.)
  • The Internet is giving people a chance to gather information so they can more often make better purchases.

Basic Concepts And Components Of Environmentally Healthy Homes

  • The chemical industry has created over 200,000 chemicals. New chemicals are being invented and put into household products all the time.
  • Thousands of petrochemicals are in construction materials, interior finishings, cabinets, furniture, carpeting, glues, paints, solvents, cleaners, insecticides, fire retardants, and mildew and mold removers.
  • Many of these chemicals move freely in the environment and interact with each other to create new, unnamed chemicals about which no one has information.
  • Many of the chemicals and the new combinations of chemicals can be hazardous to humans, especially to children - because they are growing.
  • The building and furnishing materials that are available for use in homes and schools are often not health supportive. Since the 1950’s Asthma has increased in children by 75%. This is thought to be due to the chemical soup environments in which children live. Other diseases have also been connected to the chemicals in our home environments.
  • Weatherization and energy-reducing heating and air conditioning processes can cause air to become polluted with chemicals, dust, and molds due to lack of fresh air.
  • Air, water, soil, and building materials can all have contaminants that cause strong reactions in sensitive children, resulting in damage to their nervous, immune and reproductive systems.
  • Air and water can also be contaminated with molds, pollens, dust, radiation, and chemical residues.
  • Molds and mildews, which can cause illness, collect in homes and on furnishings.
  • The label “Sick Building” is being given to buildings, which have many contaminants that can chemically compromise children. A child or youth’s symptoms can vary to this accumulation of chemicals.
  • Everyday our children are surrounded by toxic VOC (volatile organic compounds – natural and synthetic) which are released into air, water and dust by all materials. Many of these compounds are unhealthy for children/youth/adults/pets. For example: Recycled rubber tires are used in schools as floor covering. However, rubber tires are not rubber but are made of a chemical called Styrene Butadiene. This chemical causes cancer.
  • Contaminated gases can seep into homes and schools from the earth.
  • Water in wells and in municipalities is often contaminated and is affected by minerals and chemicals in water pipes, such as polychlorinated biphenyl (pcb’s), lead and copper.
  • Illnesses can be caused by electromagnetic fields found in cathode ray tubes, electric blankets, laptop computers, video games, and high voltage wires – especially near sleeping areas.
  • Natural and full-spectrum lighting (like sunlight) is healthier than fluorescent lighting.
  • The “Green Movement” does not always approach the solution and may often involve products that are not interior air quality friendly.
  • It is important for parents to realize that, at this point, there are no government regulations about which materials can and cannot be used for homes and schools. Even though people think they are protected by the government agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), these organizations have no standards for construction of buildings or the sale of home products, some of which create poor interior air quality. In fact some materials, like fire retardants, are required by law to be used, even though they cause diseases.
  • Trained, knowledgeable consultants, using monitoring equipment can identify which toxins are in the home.
  • The consultants teach parents ways to make the home as safe as possible, attempting to work within the family budget.
  • Because of this complicated situation, parents need experts to help them find out what can be done.
  • Parents and school officials are advised to take action regardless of the cost or inconvenience.
  • Parents must take responsibility and assume that any products near children could pose a risk until proven to be safe.
  • Parents must also be aware that hygiene issues are extremely important. It is essential to wash food, cooking and eating utensils; floors, bedding, sinks and toilets with non-toxic substances.
  • Hazards in the home environment can cause reproductive system problems in both parents - before children are conceived. The fundamental health of the child can be affected if these hazards are not removed before conception.
  • Conception, birth, infancy, childhood, and adolescence can all be improved when hazards in the home, community, and school environment are eliminated.
  • Environmentally safe homes should be built with organic materials and furnished with safe household products.

Major Areas Needing Environmentally Healthy Home Consultants

  • Portable classrooms
  • Emergency homes/mobile homes
  • Low cost housing
  • New homes/new schools
  • Home decorating products: bedding, mattresses, carpet, carpet under-padding, particle board furniture, cabinetry, laminated flooring, lawn and garden products, insecticides, paints, wood finishes, flooring sealants and fungicides (for mildews and molds).

Description Of A Typical Session

  • The consultant visits the home or school and interviews the occupants or owners.
  • An assessment is made about health conditions, building materials, home products, insect spraying, agricultural spray drift, heating and air conditioning systems, and water supply. The presence of electromagnetic fields may be checked. Samples of air, water, and dust may be taken back to a laboratory.
  • The consultant later returns with a written report, and a plan to remedy the problems.
  • Corrective action is taken.
  • The consultant may return to recheck after the plan is carried out.

Brief Description Of How Environmentally Healthy Home Consultants Do Their Work

  • Environmentally Healthy Home Consultants go to homes and schools to identify toxins in the environment coming from building materials, furniture, supplies and equipment. There are some investigators who specialize in one or two areas such as Electromagnetic Fields (EMF’s), air quality, Radon gas, and heating.
  • Inspections and plans are made to correct the presence of hazards and toxins.
  • Attention is paid to allergies which may be symptoms of reactions to chemicals in school and homes.
  • Parents receive information and support on how to identify and correct the possible sources of toxins. This can support the cure of the physical, mental and emotional impairments.

Major Differences Of Opinion Between Consultants

  • Consultants may give different possible solutions.
  • Consultants working for the industry and those working for householders often disagree about what substances are toxic. Consultants can often find research to back up their contradictory claims.
  • The effect of electromagnetic fields from appliances and house wiring is a hotly debated topic.

Fees/Costs In 2007 - Averages

  • Fees vary among consultants depending upon qualification and location.
  • $150 an hour is typical.

Average Time Per Session

  • Initial consultation is normally two hours.
  • There may be a need for several follow-up calls to make sure remedies could be implemented.

Recommended Length Of Time Between Sessions

  • A month apart, plus any needed follow-up to check the progress.

Estimated Length Of Time Before Improvements Can Be Expected

  • After at least two sessions (if recommendations are followed) - if the problems are not large and long term
  • In cases where toxins have long term effects, changes may not be noticed immediately.
  • Often no immediate response occurs because the effects are long term.
  • Unfortunately, some damage is slow to heal.

Suggestions To Make Environmentally Healthy Home Consultants More Effective

  • Follow the plan you work out with the Healthy Homes & Schools/Holistic Health Interiors Consultant.
  • Try not to panic the children.
  • Take action carefully.
  • Keep noticing your child’s reactions as an indicator of success.
  • Be prepared to make life changes for your child or youth even if the changes involve big sacrifices of time and money.

Other Practices That Complement Environmentally Healthy Home Consultants

  • Use health supportive construction materials: building supplies, heating, air filtration, paints, carpeting, furniture, household goods and household cleaners.
  • Use environmental medicine.
  • Use environmental specialists and companies that specialize in testing magnetic fields, and/or water, air; and for the presence of gases or radiation or molds; and/or any other common household materials. Many consultants bring equipment to measure gases, radiation, etc.
  • Eliminate fabric softeners, perfumed detergents, and flame retardants on mattresses.

Nature And Length Of Training To Be An Environmentally Healthy Home Consultant

  • Many practitioners train themselves.
  • A two-year certificate program is given by the International Institute for Bau – Biologie and Ecology; 1401 A Cleveland Street; Clearwater, Florida 33755; 727-461-4371; Fax: 727-441-4373. Website: http://building-biology.stores.yahoo.net.

Special Training Needed To Work With Children & Youth

  • None

Certification/Licenses Held By Consultants

  • As of 2007 there are no state standards.
  • There a few states that have standards or certification/licensing requirements for some of the possible tests made by Environmentally Healthy Home Consultants.

Professional Associations To Contact For Names Of Local Consultants

  • As of 2007 there are none.
  • Most practitioners are independent, unregulated and unsupervised.
  • To compensate for this, a large selection of websites, books and magazines are given to you below so you can become your own expert.

Number Of Certified Environmentally Healthy Home Consultants In U.S., Canada, And Mexico

  • The number of consultants is unknown as of 2007.
  • There are far fewer than needed.

What To Look For When Choosing The Best Consultant

  • Ask questions about their understanding of environmental illness and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).
  • Determine their understanding of symptoms that develop as a result of contaminants in the home and schools.
  • Ask for certificates of training they have had in identifying molds, harmful chemicals, electromagnetic fields, gases, and water and air quality.
  • Trust your own judgment.

Famous Practitioners/Famous Centers

  • Chemical Injury Information Network; P.O. Box 301; White Sulphur Springs, MT 59645; 406-547-2255; Fax: 416-547-2455; www.ciin.org
  • Dr. Doris J. Rapp; 1421 Colvin Blvd.; Buffalo, NY 14223; 716-875-0398; Fax: 716-875-5399; www.drrapp.com.
  • Environmental Research Foundation; P.O. Box 160; New Brunswick, NJ 08903-0160; 732-828-9995; Fax: 732-791-4603; www.rachel.org
  • Healthy House Institute; 13998 West Hartford Dr.; Boise, ID 83713; 208-938-3137; Fax: 208-938-3138; www.healthyhouseinstitute.com
  • International Institute for Bau-Biologie and Ecology; 1401 A Cleveland Street; Clearwater, FL 33755; 727-461-4371; Fax: 727-441-4373; www.buildingbiology.net
  • Natural Home Design Center; 461 Sebastopol Ave.; Santa Rosa, CA 95401; 707-571-1229; Fax: 707-571-1711; www.naturalhomesource.com

Resources, Research Papers, DVD’s, Websites

Please look up papers outlined on these websites: (If you don’t have a computer, ask your local librarian to help you.)

Bibliography

  • Hidden Exposures: Many people, including pregnant women, come into contact with things in their day-to-day environment that may affect their health and their ability to have a healthy child. Website: http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca/centres/environmental/Healthy-Environments/hidden_exposures.html.
  • Baker-Laporte, Paula, Erica Elliott and John Banta. Prescriptions for a Healthy House: A Practical Guide for Architects, Builders and Homeowners. Pennsylvania: New Society Publishers, 2001.
  • Bower, Lynn Marie. Creating A Healthy Household: The Ultimate Guide For Healthier, Safer, Less-Toxic Living. Indiana: Healthy House Institute, 2000.
  • Colborn, Theo, Dianne Dumanoski and John Peter Myers. Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence and Survival? A Scientific Detective Story. New York: Penguin, 1996.
  • Dadd, Debra Lynn. Home Safe Home: Protecting Yourself and Your Family from Everyday Toxics and Harmful Household Products. New York: Tarcher/Penguin, 1997.
  • Pinsky, Mark. EMF Book: What You Should Know About Electromagnetic Fields, Electromagnetic Radiation & Your Health. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 1995.
  • Rapp, Doris J. Is This Your Child?: Discovering and Treating Unrecognized Allergies. New York: William Morrow & Co (Harper), 1991.
  • Rapp, Doris J. Is This Your Child’s World? How You Can Fix the Schools and Homes That Are Making Your Children Sick. New York: Bantam, 1997.
  • Lewis, Grace Ross. 1001 Chemicals in Everyday Products. New York: Wiley-Interscience, 1998.
  • Schettler, Ted, Jill Stein, Fay Reich, Maria Valenti and David Wallinga. In Harms Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development. Massachusetts: Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility, 2000. No longer in print. May be downloaded here: http://psr.igc.org/ihw-download-report.htm.
  • Steinman, David and Samuel S. Epstein. The Safe Shopper’s Bible: A Consumer’s Guide to Nontoxic Household Products, Cosmetics, and Food. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1995.

Helpful Tips For Parents Made By Environmentally Healthy Home Consultants

  • Eliminate products that have high volatile compounds. The “new house”, “new car”, “new carpet” smell means there are dangerous chemicals being released into the home.
  • Create non-toxic bedrooms as soon as possible because children spend most time there.
  • Eliminate synthetic carpets and toys.
  • Use non-perfumed detergents and fabric softeners.
  • Stop dry cleaning your clothing.
  • Have mattresses with no flame retardants.
  • Use organic mattresses and bedding.
  • Find and remove molds and mildews using various techniques, including renovation.
  • Avoid using mildew and mold removers as a solution. They are also toxic. Find the sources.
  • Replace furniture paint and wall paints with organic paint.
  • Replace particle board furniture with solid wood furniture.
  • Avoid plastics, vinyl furniture, decorations and toys.
  • Create non-toxic bathrooms.
  • Avoid scented soaps.
  • Avoid air fresheners and toilet deodorants.
  • Avoid chlorine cleaners (chlorine is only given by prescription in parts of Europe).
  • Find and remove molds and mildews in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Replace new furniture that has been treated with stain, mold and mildew repellants.
  • Check for radon gas and take corrective measures.
  • Check municipal and well water supplies for contamination.
  • Check for Electrical Magnetic Fields (EMF’s), cell phone towers, microwave towers, electrical transformers and transmission lines, as well as home electrical fuse boxes, and then take corrective action, including moving.
  • Find a new place to live if necessary.

Helpful Tips For Parents

  • Make sure no child’s bedroom is near garages where cars and chemicals are stored.
  • Give new homes, new carpets, new furniture, and new paint jobs lots of time to release off gases. Some people “cook” them off by turning up the heat for many weeks, while living somewhere else.
  • Be tactile; use your senses. Look at your body for inflammations of the eyes, headaches, ongoing flu-like symptoms. Look for molds and stale air.
  • Make a list of possible dangerous new products brought into the home in the last six months to one year.
  • Try to get material safety data sheets (MSDS) when you purchase new products.
  • Purchase a carbon monoxide detector.
  • Get natural rather than chemical-based products whenever possible.
  • Air out your home as much as possible (as long as there is good quality air outside).
  • Assume any manufactured food or product is dangerous until proven otherwise.
  • Serve organic food to strengthen the body and further reduce the child’s chemical load.
  • Get involved politically, contact politicians, and boycott hazardous goods.

Biography of Susan Bahl, Author

  • Degrees: BA, 25 years of Interior Design
  • Years Experience: 17 locating safe products
  • Approximate total number of clients who are infants, children, or teens: 8,000
  • Owns and operates Natural Home Products retail outlet

Susan Bahl’s Personal Statement

The government building and manufacturing standards were set in the 1950’s. This has created a silent epidemic of children and adults with compromised immune systems.

Reactions to chemical pollutants vary for each individual. Some get multiple sensitivities; others may become depressed, or exhibit other conditions, while others may appear healthy for years and years.

Unexplained illnesses due to pollutants can appear much later in life as the body accumulates toxins over years of exposure. Soon buildings and products will be created that support humans and their health.

Some professionals might tell you that your child’s conditions are hysterical reactions.

Pay attention to how you and your child feel.

Strange, and often unexplained, symptoms that do not respond to standard medical and psychological testing often have environmental causes.

It is good that you care and are concerned about your family’s environment, despite what “experts” may say.

~ Susan

To Contact Susan Bahl, Who Contributed This Chapter

Susan Bahl; 2661 Gravenstein Hwy South, Suite G, Sebastopol, CA 95472; Phone: 707-824-0914; Fax: 707-824-4366; Web page: www.naturalhomeproducts.com; E-mail: Marie Mulligan’s Comment About Environmentally Healthy Homes: This chapter is a great overview of these complicated issues. There is a lot you can do on your own. Check out www.medlineplus.gov. If problems still persist, investigate further by hiring the most qualified consultant you can afford.

There are a few simple approaches to take that make the issue more manageable and comprehensible:

  1. Think carefully and critically about the environments you live in and the materials and products you use.
  2. Make changes you can manage at a pace you can manage. Many lifestyle and environment changes are easy to make, others less so. Making smaller, manageable changes over an extended period of time ends up being more realistic and effective over the long term.
  3. Practice the precautionary principle. Assume that something could pose a hazard to health and well-being until it is proven otherwise. Don’t wait for science or government to officially “decide” that something poses a risk. Lead was considered “safe” for many decades; pesticides were considered generally “safe” for decades and are only now being seriously questioned. My guess is that within the next decade using pesticides in the home will be as taboo as using lead paint!

Rick Geggie’s Comment About Environmentally Healthy Homes: The complexity and scope of this issue is staggering - it can seem that everything around you is toxic! This may make it seem impossible to ever feel like you’ve done “enough” to create a safe and healthy environment for yourself, the people you care about and the broader community.

We humans are not distinct from the environment; we are part of it. What we do, what we use, what we eat, what we buy, how we travel, all have an impact. Do what you can. Follow the advice in this chapter as much as you can. You will make a difference.

I look forward to the day when people who make lots of money from selling chemicals and other products that harm people and the environment realize this and deal with products that contribute to health or at least do no harm. I am sure things will change when they wake up to the terrible suffering caused by their hazardous chemicals. I also look forward to companies and governments paying for long-term impartial research and publicity on the effects of products and manufacturing processes. I want my grandchildren’s grandchildren to have environmentally safe homes and schools.

Copyright © 2014 Growing Up Easier. Site designed by Mary Smith Design.