Indoor Air Quality and Your Health: Environmentally Acquired Illness

Indoor Air Quality and Your Health: Environmentally Acquired Illness

Did you know that the quality of air in your home or work place can affect your health?

Most people have heard of sick building syndrome, but what makes a sick building?

There are a variety of factors involved in sick buildings. Certain building materials, paints and glues contain volatile organic chemicals that off gas (breathe out) fumes that can impact our health. In office buildings especially, all too often in order to reduce overhead costs, air is recycled through ventilation systems and these systems may not be properly maintained increasing a burden of dust, molds, bacteria and other chemicals in their air.   Many cleaning products or air fresheners contain chemicals that can impact our health.

Older homes are less at risk for being a sick building because their insulation is poor compared to newer energy efficient buildings. But older buildings can have other hazards such as lead paint, asbestos, rodent infestation and water damage.

Leaks in plumbing or the roof or improperly sealed foundations can lead to mold contamination. This can be hidden behind a wall or in the subfloor making it difficult to detect, but a person may notice that they feel ill when they are at home and better when they are away on vacation.

Not all molds that we are exposed to are toxic. The Pacific Northwest is filled with mold, especially this time of year. Most of it, however, is not problematic unless you are allergic to molds, in which case you will have increased allergy symptoms.

But some molds such as stachybotrys (black mold) from water damage in buildings can have serious health effects. These are not due to allergic reactions but rather to toxins that these molds produce. Symptoms can range from severe fatigue, brain fog, memory loss, migraines, neurological symptoms and immune problems from chronic exposure. Just getting rid of the mold won’t eliminate the problem unless the toxins are properly remediated from the furniture, books, clothing, bedding, carpets and the rest of the building.

Recovering from environmentally acquired illness often takes time and is a financial drain on people. But there is hope. The most important thing is to get away from the source of exposure as best as you can. If you can’t move or leave your job, then you may want to invest in an air purifier. Saunas, Epsom salt baths and exercise to induce sweating help too.

A ketogenic diet can be helpful here because it increases the flow of bile through the liver which helps eliminate these toxins. Adding in a fiber supplement like psyllium husks or a binding agent like activated charcoal can also help, just be careful to take these supplements away from medications.

And, if it can be helped, have your home thoroughly inspected before you buy it by an expert. It will save you a lot of problems in the long run.

Dr. Jennifer Means welcomes you for Primary Care for the whole family: Nutrition, IV Therapy, Naturopathy, and Acupuncture. Contact us at 503-641-6400.