Are You Trying To Live A Healthy Life In A Sick Building?
So you have your healthy diet working for you, you’ve got your exercise program all worked out, you’re drinking plenty of clean water and getting a good nights sleep and managing your stress levels… but you are still not feeling on top of the world. It’s those pesky allergies again and you just can’t seem to sake them off. You might do well to turn your attention to your environment and I’m not talking pollen here I’m referring to mold. Try asking yourself the question, “Am I living in a healthy home?” Recent research paints a pretty serious picture of the state of our homes. The research is referring to mold and some scientists are calling it America’s hidden pandemic!
In a recent paper Dr. Howard Eno of University Hospital Louisville in Kentucky referred to the occurrence of indoor mold in the United States as being so elevated the he considers to it to be a pandemic. As numerous as 35% of all US schools and a minimum of 20% or more of all homes are thought to be influenced by mold and microbial growth due to elevated levels of moisture. A huge part of the problem comes from substandard construction and poor ventilation. He explains:
“I have been working along side colleagues who have knowledge of construction practices and my conclusion is that the problem lies with the way we are actually building houses. There have been many advancements in materials and construction techniques in recent years. However the focus in modern construction appears to be profit driven, with very little consideration given to the ultimate health of a home. And despite the apparent developments in technology the materials being used today actually encourage the growth of microorganisms.
If you go back forty years most of the interior walls of a home in America were constructed from lath and plaster. That practice has been replaced by the modern plasterboard, commonly referred to as drywall. Just about every home is constructed from drywall. Try knocking on the walls of your home and you will most likely hear a hollow sound… that is the thin layer of drywall. That is all fine and dandy for the construction industry because dry walling a house takes less than half the time it used to take to do traditional lath and plaster. However the problem we are finding is that mold thrives on plasterboard because of its capacity to hold moisture and therefore it is a great growth medium for all types of mold.
Carpets are another problem. Most houses have carpets. The underside of a carpet is a perfect medium for the development of mold and microorganisms. Other areas of concern are homes with basements. Basements and the foundation upon which they are built are constructed from poured concrete, often without any kind of moisture barrier between the earth and the concrete wall of the basement.
Every time it rains or even when you water your yard the water that seeps into the ground may end up penetrating the concrete of the basement walls. This in turn gets released into the home as increased humidity. Mould and bacteria begins to proliferate when humidity goes above 60%. People need to be extremely cautious about this scenario. Millions of homes are subject to this condition and that is the reason I refer to this as a pandemic.”
Mold has a negative effect on human health. Allergies, respiratory and sinus disorders, joint pain and headaches are but a few of the symptoms that manifest from living in a microbe infested home. More on this in the next article… but for now let’s go back to some of the other causes.
Rain gutters can likewise trigger issues. Be advised to pay attention to the way roof water is carried away from your home. I discovered this happening at my home and suffered the effects of dampness when one of the downspouts drained onto the ground directly alongside the wall, and the water seeped into my basement. So next time it rains take a look to see exactly where the rain flows as it comes off your roof. Make sure it is not pooling close to the walls of you house. Aim to get the water at least 10 feet away. Pay attention to the ground level around your house. Look to see if the dirt slopes away from the sides of your house to prevent water from accumulating around the foundation. Ensure your yard sprinklers do not spray too close to the walls.
Other common building problems that can add to water invasion and subsequent mold expansion include:
- Use PVC piping rather of galvanized or copper piping, PVC is less likely to puncture in the event of getting clipped by a nail or staple.
- Incorrect installation of bathtubs and shower units with faulty sealing and poorly applied caulking around the drain
- The same applies to poorly sealed waste disposals and sinks.
- During construction – Installing particleboard after it has actually been rained on.
- Poorly ventilated roofs. For more info click here
- Incorrect installation of windows
All of these points are related to construction and manufacturing. In another article I will talk about how mould actually grows and how that then become hazardous to human health.