A Need For Change: The Health Hazards of Indoor Air Pollution

The National Academy of Sciences estimates that the annual national health care cost of indoor air pollution to be between $15 billion and $100 billion. The EPA estimates that up to 50% of all illness is connected to the indoor air quality in our homes and workplaces.

It will probably take 25-50 years for the general population to fully realize, accept and make changes accordingly. The cry of the skeptic is, “There is not enough evidence. Manufacturers and the government would never allow any harmful building materials or products to be sold to the trusting consumer.”

Unfortunately, the exact opposite is true; the evidence is monumental.

Even in light of this evidence, it can be difficult to make a transition. The thought of making changes may be overwhelming and are to be expected as long as long-term consumer habits are being challenged.

The recommendations we give are not meant to restrict or interfere with your lifestyle. They are, in fact, steps that will improve the quality of your life by reducing and preventing symptoms due to poor indoor air quality. Creating a healthy home or workplace can save money that might later be spent on doctor visits, medication and missed workdays. Creating a healthy work and living area also enables a chronically ill person’s body to use energy to heal instead of using that energy to detoxify chemicals from the environment.

Education resulting in an understanding of the information is the key, which will unlock the motivation to change. Yet nevertheless, “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, on which is proof against all arguments and which can’t fail to keep a man in ignorance. The principle is “Contempt Prior to Investigation”.

Study this material, determine your priorities, and then begin to make changes, as you are able. Every effort you make will be a step towards strengthening your immune system and enhancing your family’s health.

WARNING: Your home may be hazardous to your health

Do you live or work in a home or office that promotes your health and well¬being? There is a good chance that you don’t. Few people realize that the average American indoor environment is more polluted than the outside air. According to a four-volume report on indoor air quality submitted by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Congress, the worst air pollution in our nation is right inside our own homes and offices. Hazardous and toxic chemicals at concentrations of 2-200 times higher than levels outdoors can be found in the typical home or office, regardless of geographic location. The situation is so critical that legislation introduced into Congress (SI629HR5373) explicitly recognizes illness from indoor pollutants as a serious threat to public health and the EPA has declared indoor air quality “the most significant environmental issue we have to face in this decade.”

Studies from Harvard University show that your risk of getting cancer from exposure to chemicals found in your own home or workplace is greater than your risk from exposure to the same chemicals at a hazardous-waste site (these findings don’t just apply to extremely polluted houses). Instead of ignoring these dangers, we should recognize them and be aware of what the hazards are, where they are located, and how to remedy them. It is time to take action and make our homes and offices healthy, regenerative places to live.

An overview of our indoor environment

How has it happened that our homes, schools and workplaces have become so harmful to our health? Since World War II, both the volume and the number of manufactured chemicals have multiplied as a direct result of the research and development of chemical warfare. According to the U.S. National Research Council, no information on toxic effects is available for 79% of the more than 48,500 synthetic chemicals listed by the EPA. These synthetic chemicals are in the products most of us use everyday. Allowing the production and release of these toxic substances without understanding their full biological effects has placed us in a very ominous situation.

Since the energy crisis of the 1970’s, the problem has been compounded by our quest for energy efficiency. Our “too-tight” energy-efficient homes, with their reduced fresh air exchange, have resulted in elevated levels of indoor pollutants. Instead of homes being made and furnished with building materials of natural origin, many are now constructed of plywood (sheets of wood sandwiched together with phenol-formaldehyde resin), particleboard (pressed wood shavings saturated with urea formaldehyde) and plastics. Paints, primers and stains may contain petroleum distillates, halogenated hydrocarbons, toluene, etc., all of which outgas into the living environment. Carpets, chairs, sofas, drapes and clothing are made of chemically treated, fire and stain resistant synthetic fibers.

Pesticides are used regularly and kitchens are stocked with processed foods filled with chemical preservatives and additives. Produce is eaten that has been grown with pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Powerful disinfectants, waxes, cleansers, scented air fresheners and room deodorizers, aerosol propelled products, perfumes, deodorants, scented soaps, shampoos and other personal hygiene items that are used may contain biologically oppressive substances which all add to the chemical soup trapped in our tightened buildings.

The body’s biochemistry is not designed to deal with this daily onslaught of man¬made chemicals. Many of these chemicals are not fully metabolized and slowly stockpile or bioaccumulate over a lifetime. There are also chemicals such as phthalates that are endocrine disruptors that damage hormone receptors, leading to loss of sex drive and energy, or they damage brain chemistry leading to mental illnesses, brain dysfunction disorders, learning disabilities and hyperactivity, or they accumulate in the organs and trigger cancers of the prostate, breast, lung, and thyroid.

In addition to this chemical contamination, we are now surrounded by a sea of electromagnetic frequencies never before experienced in the history of human civilization. With the introduction of cell phones, wireless technologies, radio and TV broadcasting stations, radio telephone networks, cordless phones, etc the level of radio waves and microwaves is now many millions of times higher than natural levels. This is in addition to what is called the Extreme Low Frequency (ELF) fields produced by the AC Current in homes that drives electrical appliances in households and the power lines feeding those devices.

The consequence of this exposure to electromagnetic fields is not yet fully understood. Just as it is prudent to avoid chemical exposures, so it is prudent to avoid electromagnetic exposure when possible.

In conclusion, even if you are a young adult who does not drink alcohol, smoke, or take drugs, you eat a nutritional diet, take whole food supplements, get enough sunlight and exercise daily, exposure to these toxins can prevent you from reaching your maximum mental and physical health potential. But if you are a child, a pregnant woman, elderly, or if you have a pre-existing condition (heart disease, allergies, chronic illness), then exposure to chemical toxins and EMFs can significantly alter your life.

Acute reactions to indoor pollution and EMF exposure range from behavioral modification, irritability, hyperactivity, hypo activity and lapse of memory, to drowsiness, nausea, dizziness, rashes, sneezing, irritated eyes, ear infections, lethargy, insomnia, chronic pain, bronchitis, etc. The chronic delayed reactions, which are the most dangerous result from the bioaccumulation of toxins in the body. The potential effects of prolonged exposure are cancer, respiratory diseases such as asthma and emphysema, heart problems, damage to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system. As an insidious force, the danger of indoor pollution is often not recognized until it is too late.

Health risks to children and the unborn fetus are especially profound. As children’s organs and body systems (including the vitally important immune system) are still undergoing development, disruptions and disturbances during this growth period may result in irreparable damage.

With all this information in mind, the primary goal of Branch Basics is to educate people so that they may remedy their own situation in order to create a healthy home and healthy body.

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One Comment

  1. Stop the madness! Will we ever learn? I am so frustrated looking for products without any toxins, I am losing hope, glad I came across this site. Happy toxic-free nesting.


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