How Sick Buildings Affect Lives

23 07 2015
 

Best Fabrics of the Day found in old Victorian style shops

Best Fabrics of the Day found in old Victorian style shops

Updated:  23 July 2015

I first experienced the effects of sick building off-gases within fabric warehouse places with my mother as a child. But never understood the cause of those early “bad feeling” symptomatic effects until working as a corporate building services, maintenance and project manager years later. The full context of my personal story will soon be shared after defining “what constitutes a sick building.”

“Sick Building Syndrome” coined by WHO (World Health Organization, 1986) is caused by toxic materials-products, molds, and fungus from associated gas by-product found in many homes and workspace. Whereas the enclosed space becomes highly concentrated with toxins and bad for respiratory and body health. And/or the air intake and building exhaust air handling systems removal of hazardous gases and replenishment of fresh air underperform.

The focus here is to provide awareness to unhealthy environmental air space caused by off-gassing of new building materials, retail fabrics, cleaning agents and poor air circulation systems. However, sick building syndrome and symptomatic ill-health effects can also be caused by out-of-control molds and fungus.

Sick Building Syndrome as it relates to new material off-gasses often occurs after building construction and major renovation. And when material install, cleaning and curing compounds are applied, i.e., concrete, caulking, carpet, paint, glue, drapery, furniture; and where building envelop replacement materials from outside walls and roofs may enter air handling systems; then supply contaminated air to enclosed work and living space.

Nobody accidentally consumed any of these materials, but people still got sick just from breathing the volatile organic compounds (VOC) which are now known to cause acute and chronic ill-health effects. Especially when improper ventilation of toxic air space and material cure times are out of compliance with environmental air safety standards prior to occupancy.

Popular tourist locations may present bad air environments for some.

Popular tourist locations may present bad air environments for some.

All possible side effects from inhaling off-gas materials including home use cleaning products are not fully understood by consumers.  And that’s a problem with chemicals in many of our everyday use items!  [Natural Health, May-June 1993 v23 n3 p54 (2)].

Toxic side effects range from irritation of eye, nose and throat. To neurotoxic effects, i.e., fatigue, irritability and headaches. And asthma like symptoms, dry skin irritation, gastrointestinal problems and more [wikipedia, 2015]. Other acute neurotoxic and symptomatic effects may disorient and cause one to lose balance as I’m well aware.

If you’ve not experienced high levels of indoor air toxins simply recall that new car smell on a hot day. Heated and enclosed air space with poor circulation has a way of squeezing chemical toxins out of any newly manufactured material. When I do drive a new car I role down the windows enough or vent full outside air in to ensure plenty enters the space. Some people love the smell of new cars and homes and not sensitive to VOC toxins. Those sensitive to new material off-gases like I prefer to buy used cars and other natural or organic products when possible and practical. Including purchasing clean green home and personal hygiene products opposed to products with hazardous VOC fumes and where direct product contact may be absorbed by the body’s skin.

As a previous environmental air systems technician and later experienced in building services and facilities maintenance management I learned there is a required time prior to occupancy after new construction and major building renovations. Proper ventilation and cycling of fresh outdoor air allows the off-gas of materials to purge until hazardous toxins are released and dissipated to safe respiratory levels.

There was no greater empathy I felt for those at work who questioned the facilities air ventilation system, which they believed made them sick. My personal experience and connection to this sick feeling began one day as a child and prior to environmental air quality and medical expert knowledge and acknowledgement of sick building syndrome effects on health. Today corporate environmental safety engineers and medical health services draw a sick-building connection to decreased work production and increased sick days, personal leave and disability claims.

To ensure buildings have safe air environments facility engineers, maintenance managers and technicians use preventative practices that sustain safe outdoor air intake and periodic HVAC functional testing as required by OSHA (Occupation Safety and Health Administration).

During childhood my mother was what could only be described as a professional seamstress with a fashion design and artistic eye. She was also an excellent painter and drawer with specialized arts and crafts skill sets.  She brought me to these fabric and crafts warehouses where she’d spend countless hours rummaging through the numerous clothing design pattern-templates and sift through dozens of rolls of fabric, purchasing it by the yards. Including buying arts and crafts materials in bulk.  Yes, these places were filled with newly manufactured materials releasing hazardous gases in poorly vented air space.

I remember asking my mother not to take me to these places. I always felt sick after a short period of time inside them.  Of course, she assumed my ailment was brought about by pure boredom with no medical basis to back my complaints.

Since I was only 4 or 5 at the time, I was ignored and for lack of a better description “I passed out in the children’s play pen area due to the dizziness and feeling of a sick body.”  Once out of the store’s environment I immediately felt better. Since the lightheaded condition immediately cleared after leaving, there was no reason for my mother to suspect anything other than pure boredom was the result of my lethargic posture and complaints.

Yes.  Lethargic and boredom posturing comes in all forms.

Yes. Lethargic and boredom posturing comes in all forms.

Plus, in the early 60’s, no one ever heard of sick building syndrome. Or even if air smelt toxic, people ignored what didn’t bother them. And for those affected were described by the unaffected as complainers, fakers, or needed mental health attention. Or perceived as excuses to get out of work, or to leave or not participate in something.

As an adult I experienced a severe reaction to a sick building 20 years later at a newly constructed and popular sport store only years after being married. This brought back the connection to my childhood experience in the fabric stores. I remember walking into this fantastic sports center with my wife to look at camping and hiking equipment. I was very excited to go in and purchase gear for our next outdoor adventure. But I only got 50 feet within the space.

Then it happened.

The product off-gassing in this store was so strong [stronger than the fabric houses I recalled as a child], I quickly became disoriented and felt I was going to pass out and fall.  I immediately grabbed onto a shelf to steady my balance and then my wife helped me walk outside where the symptoms went away in a matter of seconds. To this day I’ve never gone back inside this particular store.

Prior to this episode I’d go shopping for clothes and always feel light headed, but could tolerate the effect. My wife always assumed prior to this sports store episode I used my childhood experience and suspected reaction to clothing fabric chemicals as an excuse to get out of shopping. In the past I had told her it was more of avoidance to not feel disoriented, sick or extremely tired. And I suspected it had to do with the chemicals emitted from heavy volumes of new apparel. She didn’t believe this to be truly factual until the severe reaction occurred in the sports store.

My wife realized at this point I was not faking this sickness to get out of shopping with her “come on, a sports store, hello.” As a matter of fact she was one minute away from calling 911. I felt as if I was experiencing a drug overdose. Not that I ever had an overdose, but you get the point.

Then years after working as a HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) technician, services, maintenance and project manager everything came full circle making the connection to unhealthy air environments and symptomatic ill-health effects. And only thereafter did those previous doctor visit tags: bored, in my head, coincidental, imagined, disinterested, food or cleaning product allergy, etc., completely go away, like the unnecessary doctor visits.

In understanding preventative maintenance practices on HVAC equipment and safe work space air standards, I’m able to immediately relate and sense unhealthy VOC and poor circulation environments. I simply don’t go into any space with an all too familiar concentrated chemical smell that could cause a severe respiratory and physical reaction. I do like to shop but like many others who share similar sensitivities to toxic air, I’m very aware when materials are still in the off-gas phase. And where bad, or poorly maintained ventilation and air circulation conditions exist.

No matter the enclosed space: work, home, retail, car; any form or combination of toxic air and poor ventilation may have an effect on health regardless of whether or not you experience any current symptoms. And when exposed to these toxins too long can cause medical problems and quality of life to suffer later on.

Recommendation: If you walk into a store and smell a strong chemical odor, and/or begin to feel sick, immediately leave and shop at a different place with better ventilation.  Write, or email management you’ll be back after they improve their preventative maintenance practices and improve fresh air circulation systems and/or scrub ductwork and heat exchange coils of contaminants.  I will not step foot into any store, or stay long within a new home or newly constructed building that brings about an immediate feeling of sickness.

Restaurants may have poor ventilation systems

Restaurants may have poor air ventilation systems

You’ll know this feeling when sensitive to certain toxins because you may first experience respiratory or eye, nose, throat irritation followed by a feeling of light headedness.

If you’re hypersensitive like me you’ll immediately feel tired, or disoriented, or lose focus and/or off balance. And if overwhelmed by VOC may feel like you need to lay down for fear of fainting and falling.  If off-gassing is causing a symptomatic ill-health effect in the home, or car increase outdoor fresh air intake, clean and/or change filters; have ventilation systems checked for equipment air quality and functionality.  If you can’t address these issues due to financial limitations, open some windows part way to increase fresh indoor air quality and circulate air with fan.

If the problem occurs at work contact senior environmental safety engineers and health services to report and get problem resolved.

In most cases, I cannot stand to be in any retail store filled with new clothes or near perfume sample stations long unless well-ventilated.  Also many home cleaning, new clothing apparel and building material products you breathe but not sensitive too are manufactured with “known chemical carcinogens that also off-gas within space.

Do not take my word for it go to any search engine on the Internet and type in “sick building syndrome, off-gas, home cleaning products and carcinogen,” you be the judge. For you and your children’s wellbeing, consider taking preventative air quality and clean green products measures to ensure your home is a healthy and a safe environment.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, MSC Officer, ANG Ret. 2015 Copyright.  All rights reserved, MirrorAthlete Publishing





Defeat Bad Breath

23 12 2009
Possibly Brushing and Flossing Would Help My Breath

Possibly Brushing and Flossing Would Help My Breath

 Watch our Chow Dogs Play Fight – Very Entertaining  Unfortunately as we age our digestive and immune systems become less forgiving of what we put into our bodies.  If you couple this with poor hygiene, less exercise, poor consumer habits and mismanaged stress in our lives this is the perfect storm for chronic bad breath.  Although many mystery bad breath disorders originate from the intestines and stomach; bacteria in the mouth, back of throat, abscesses in teeth, gum disease are perfect places for bacteria to putrefy.   This purification also caused by certain foods decaying with bacteria between teeth, gums and tongue often has the smell of sulfur.  Much cause of bad breath has a lot to do with good oral hygiene and proper water hydration throughout the day.  Without water the digestive system will not work to your advantage in cleansing your bad breath.  Many digestion, constipation, diarrhea, stomach problems, headaches, sore joints, muscle pain, dry eye-mouth, etc. ,  is the result of dehydration.  When your stomach is empty and you are dehydrated, those that your close to will tend to keep their distance. 

  Natural Cures, Remedies & Advisement.  How to: Tips on Removing Bad Breath. 

To get the tips and the full story click on the link above.  Before you click on the link to get the most popular breath freshending remedies and tips, comment on what works for you, or other recommendations.  See how many remedies you get right, or that you can contribute to this blog summary befor reading the full story. 

 Digestion problems can occur in vegetarian as well as meat eaters causing bad breath for both.  Try combinations of bad breath problem fix tips above.  What works for one, may not work for others.  Research the Internet under key words I’ve provided at the link above.  Get further insight into combination(s) of successful fresh breath hygiene practices and overall health habits that impact and improve breath.

Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET2009 Copyright.  All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.





Product Toxins and Asthma Story Relationship

25 02 2008

 Mirror Athlete Enterprises Question and Answer “Asthma Story”

Q.    Is there any relationship with house hold toxins and asthma?

   A.    Let me share Zachary’s Asthma story with all of you.

  When Zachary was 6 months old he was diagnosed with asthma.  My husband and I thought it was strange because no one in our families had asthma.   We were unsuccessful treating him with a nebulizer and steroids.  When he turned 1 and we were still unsuccessful, our Doctor referred us to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics to a Pediatric Pumologist.  Up to that point we had been in the doctors office an average of 2 times per week.   They changed his meds to 2 different inhalers that were attached to a chamber for him to breath the meds through.  They also put him on Orapred (a steroid) that can cause stunted growth.   They had me keep this medication in our refrigerator- when he needed it I had to call Iowa City and talk to a doctor on call – they always had to chart it.When Zachary was 6 months old he was diagnosed with asthma.  My husband and I thought it was strange because no one in our families had asthma.   We were unsuccessful treating him with a nebulizer and steroids.  When he turned 1 and we were still unsuccessful, our Doctor referred us to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics to a Pediatric Pumologist.  Up to that point we had been in the doctors office an average of 2 times per week.   They changed his meds to 2 different inhalers that were attached to a chamber for him to breath the meds through.  They also put him on Orapred (a steroid) that can cause stunted growth.   They had me keep this medication in our refrigerator- when he needed it I had to call Iowa City and talk to a doctor on call – they always had to chart it. When Zachary was 6 months old he was diagnosed with asthma.  My husband and I thought it was strange because no one in our families had asthma.   We were unsuccessful treating him with a nebulizer and steroids.  When he turned 1 and we were still unsuccessful, our Doctor referred us to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics to a Pediatric Pumologist.  Up to that point we had been in the doctors office an average of 2 times per week.   They changed his meds to 2 different inhalers that were attached to a chamber for him to breath the meds through.  They also put him on Orapred (a steroid) that can cause stunted growth.   They had me keep this medication in our refrigerator- when he needed it I had to call Iowa City and talk to a doctor on call – they always had to chart it. We went on like this for another year.
 

When we moved to North Dakota I was introduced to a Company that had safe, non toxic cleaning products, laundry soap, personal care products, etc.  They told me if you have anyone in your home with asthma, allergies, itchy skin, etc., you will love these products.  I tried them.  It was 100% guaranteed and it was already money I was spending on similar products at Wal-Mart.   It was no new money that came out of my pocket.  Two months after getting rid of the toxic cleaning products we were using,  we saw a remarkable change in Zach’s asthma.  He was no longer wheezing, no longer needed any meds and his lips did not turn blue when he cried now.  It has been the best thing for Zachary we have ever done.  Plus I am saving about $150 a month I was spending on meds.   I am so thankful everyday that I was patient enough to give this a shot- It has made all the difference in the world for Zach.  All we did was switch stores to purchase safe, non-toxic products.  Plus these products are less money and don’t have the toxic chemicals then their equivalent at Wal-Mart.
I have people ask me are you sure it was the products?  I respond to that saying- “We have done nothing else differently and I refuse to go back to what I was buying at Wal-Mart to test it.”  We know- we lived with this little boy for 2 years and have seen the change.  We know it has been the products.  I can not say it has cured his asthma, but it definitely has a handle on controlling the symptoms.
Visit our site Wellness Company page and learn about these natural products as Zachary’s parents discovered.  We offer excellent “NATURAL” products scientifically formulated to remove chemical toxin allergies from your home.

 

 Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET.  2008 Copyright.  All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: http://www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter 





What is Sick Building Syndrome?

14 12 2007
“Remember ‘Sick Building Syndrome?” “This came about as commercial construction materials were developed with toxic compounds.  Nobody ATE those materials, but people still got sick just from breathing the air near the materials.  All possible side effects of these materials were NOT fully understood.  And that’s the problem with all these chemicals in our everyday items!  [Natural Health, May-June 1993 v23 n3 p54(2)].   My first experience with “Sick Building Syndrome” (also known as product “off-gasing”) was experienced as a child and not realized until an adult as a corporate project manager.  E.g., the final commissioning phase of facilities construction requires customers to wait a specified time to allow proper off-gasing of new materials, i.e., carpets, partitions, ceilings, paints, concrete, etc.  This process allows “proper venting [off-gasing]” of materials allowing inhabitance without creating immediate sickness.  Customer occupation after proper off-gasing periods is an EHS (Environmental Health Services) requirement.  As a child my mother was a seamstress; back in those days I was brought to the fabric storehouses where my mother would spend countless hours rummaging through the numerous dress design pattern-templates and rolls of fabric.
 
I remembered at a young age I would beg my mother not to take me to these places, as I always felt sick after a short period of time inside.  Of course, she assumed my ailment was brought about by pure boredom with no medical basis to back up my claim.  I was ignored and for lack of a better description “I passed out in the childrens play pen area due to the sickness.”  Once out of the environment I immediately got better.As an adult I still experience sick building syndrome at certain establishments.  It can be clothing, sporting goods stores, or newly commissioned buildings that have this effect on me.  The last severe episode occurred while in a brand name sporting goods store about 15 years ago.  I remember walking into the store with my wife; the product chemical off-gasing in the store was so strong I quickly became disoriented and felt I was going to go unconscious.  My wife and I immediately left the store.  It wasn’t until this episode my wife realized I was not faking this sickness to get out of shopping with her [“come on, a sports store, hello”].   On the contrary, I do like to shop, but am very sensitive to building and product toxins that are still in the process of off-gasing [this may be my saving grace, I can get out before I inhale too much, where others have no such warning system].
 
In the last Health Blog I wrote “Is Cancer in Your Tub?”  “Sick building-product syndrome” is the same issue where instead of absorbed through the skin by household products, you inhale the toxins.
 
Suggestion:  If you walk into a store and smell a strong chemical odor, or begin to feel sick, immediately leave and shop at a different store with better ventilation.  Let management know you’ll be back after they improve their ventilation system.  I will not step foot in any store that brings about an immediate feeling of sickness, or health risk knowingly.  In most cases, even with good ventilation, I cannot stand to be in most stores with lots of carpet and clothing for more then 30 minutes.  Most material off-gasing you breath are “known carcinogens.”   Do not take my word for it, go to any search engine on the Internet and type in “Off-gasing and carcinogen,” you be the judge.

Author: Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET.  2007 Copyright.  All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.com