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Why is Building Biology Important

Healthy Living Spaces - Saturday, August 05, 2017

Home is where the heart is, our place to retreat from our busy world. We initially designed these to protect us from the elements and keep us warm and dry but since the 1950's our building practices have changed significantly.

There are many elements in a building that can affect our quality of life, our physical health and our emotional wellbeing. Our homes are living organisms and Building Biologist refer to them as our third skin, with clothes being the second.

On average we spend about 90% of our time indoors. An important element in creating a healthy home is recognising that just because a product is common doesn't necessarily mean it is safe. There is often a misconception that if it's on a supermarket shelf it has been thoroughly tested. That however is not the reality.

In 2004 the Australian Government Department of Health & Aging produced a booklet called 'Healthy Homes' which recognised poor indoor air quality may cause a wide range of symptoms ranging from headaches, tiredness and fatigue to asthma and allergic responses. Some sources of indoor air pollutants are from:

  • Building operations and construction materials;
  • Household products;
  • Various human indoor activities;
  • External factors

Working with a Building Biologist gives individuals the tools to create healthy environments and an understanding of how to make better consumer choices. Each day brings fresh opportunities to explore different options and choices to create a home that will support and nourish you today and in the future. Click here my PDF on Seven Simple Steps to Create a Healthier Home. 

If you would like to learn even more you can obtain my free e-book  http://www.healthylivingspaces.com.au/subscribe

Love Technology But Want to Use it Safely

Healthy Living Spaces - Sunday, June 25, 2017

Our modern world today bears little resemblance even to our grandparent’s world so immense have been the changes since World War II. There is now practically nowhere left to go that is not affected by the man made signals that we have been progressively adding. Fast forward to today and now our children will be exposed from the womb to multiple sources of radiation on a continual basis unlike anything previous generations have ever encountered.    

Did you know that in 2002 the World Health Organization (WHO) classified 50Hz magnetic fields as a ‘possible carcinogen’   (IARC, 2002), then in May 2011 they classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) is the Australian Government agency that sets the guidelines for standard limits for radiation exposure. ARPANSA still consider that there is a lack of established evidence. However there is now a very extensive amount of peer reviewed scientific literature on the effects of ELF EMF and RF/MW fields on humans and although there have been conflicting studies and uncertainties in the research, there is enough evidence to raise valid concerns and serious questions. Because of this there are scientists, doctors, academics and researchers around the world appealing to the UN and other organisation’s to initiate much needed reform and change.

As we are all well aware from previous experience with asbestos, smoking, lead and DDT change and public policy can take decades. A  misconception often made  is that if  something is common it's safe, that it’s sufficiently regulated and tested, however, that is not the reality.

If you have concerns around these issues get in touch with a Building Biologist who can assess your home and give recommendations to minimise exposure. See below for 5 simple tips to reduce exposure:    

  • Check the other side of the wall where your bed is located. If it is a source of electromagnetic fields create distance from this.
  • Keep all electronic devices in the bedroom to a minimum.
  • If you use your mobile as an alarm, put it in flight mode and keep a distance from the bed.
  • Turn your router off when not in sure, particularly at night.
  • Use an Echo Tubez headset when using your mobile and keep the phone away from your body.

If you are interested in this topic and other information to create healthy homes subscribe to my newsletter at the bottom of the page and you will also receive my free E-book. http://www.healthylivingspaces.com.au

VOC's & their Impact on our Environment

Healthy Living Spaces - Monday, June 15, 2015

'Our personal consumer choices have ecological, social and spiritual consequences. It is time to re-examine some of our deeply held notions that underlie our lifestyles'. David Suzuki


An important factor of a healthy building is the quality of the air we breathe. As a Building Biologist our aim is to create homes that will support and nourish you today and in the future.

We view our homes as living organisms and we refer to them as our third skin. This holistic approach encourages us to be conscious and aware of the choices we make in regards to our environment on a daily basis. Today we spend a lot of time indoors and if like me, you work from home and have young children well over 90% of your time can be spent at home.

Our modern way of life can contribute to ill health and our homes can play a big part in this. Today chemicals are in everything such as building materials, clothing, bedding, furnishings, cleaning products and the list goes on. However it is often when we are making changes to our lives and our homes that these VOCs can be introduced in large numbers. The CSIRO completed a study that showed high levels of VOCs present a year after construction was finished.

 Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are found in a range of products, such as paints, adhesives, fabrics and wood preservatives, and they become airborne at room temperature.  Formaldehyde is found in manufactured wood products such as particleboard, plywood, MDF. This is a known carcinogen and is banned in some countries but is used extensively in Australia. We are all familiar with the smell of a newly painted home, floors finished with polyurethane or the cleaning isle in the supermarket. That smell is actually a cocktail of chemicals that are off gassing from the material into the environment.

When we are exposed to chemicals it is never just one it is always in multiples. The synergist effects of these are relatively unknown and unable to be measured. Common symptoms from exposure to VOC’s can include eye, nose and throat irritation, nausea, coughing, confusion, fatigue, dizziness, headaches and memory impairment (EPA 2012).

Recently I have had a client who had just finished a renovation to her home. It included new cabinetry, renovated bathroom, painting and some new upholstered furniture. Days afterwards both herself and her children were suffering from some of the symptoms mentioned above. Investigating these types of products and finishes beforehand gives you the opportunities to choose healthier alternatives.

If you are in the market to buy new furniture or doing renovation work, some elements to consider are:

  • Query what, where and how the product was made.
  • Imported pieces are often fumigated so opt for local and Australian made.
  • Avoid MDF furniture and opt for natural wood finished in natural oils.
  • The more natural and untreated a fabric is the better it is for your health. Look for fabrics such as organic cotton, hemp, wool and latex.
  • When painting, opt for plant based, zero or low VOC paints, adhesives and sealants.
  • Use indoor plants to help purify your air.
  • Lastly use natural ventilation, open your windows whenever possible.

The best way we can control our indoor air is to use low or ideally non-polluting building materials and products that allow our buildings to breathe. Understanding the choices available gives us the tool and the knowledge to make better choices.  Even the smallest decisions we make can enhance our wellbeing, improve the health of our kids, our homes, our planet and ourselves.

Create a Safe Sleeping Sanctuary

Healthy Living Spaces - Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Our modern way of life can contribute to ill health and our homes can play a big part in this. We spend a lot of time indoors and if like me, you work from home and have young children well over 90% of your time can be spent at home. 
Have you thought about the amount of chemicals we are all exposed to just by  going about our normal daily routine? Once you gain an awareness of the hidden dangers lurking in your home, your cupboards and in your everyday products there is generally no turning back. Our assumptions begin to be questioned.  Most people are shocked to discover how many chemicals are in use today and the fact that over 80% haven’t been tested for their effects on human health.

Products such as cleaning and personal care products, clothing, mattresses, building materials, non stick cookware, pesticides and many more can contain toxic chemicals that have been linked to everything from skin and eye irritants to asthma, learning disabilities, hormone disruption and many other serious illnesses.

Another area of concern is our exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs). This is particularly important in our bedrooms. According to Magda Havas some of the symptoms of prolonged exposure to EMFs where are bodies are under stress and aren’t given time to regenerate are disrupted sleep patterns, memory and concentration loss, mood swings, depressive disorders, high levels of anxiety and illnesses such as chronic fatigue.

The good news is we can dramatically reduce the impact of these toxins and electromagnetic fields by making simple and effective changes in our homes and everyday lives.

With anything in life it is best to start with one thing at a time.  So I would like to start with your bedroom. Given that on average we spend 22 years of our life sleeping and most of our cell regeneration takes place during the night, this room is critical for our health and vitality.

  • Keep all electronic devices to a minimum in the bedroom. If you use a digital clock radio keep a minimum of 1 metre from your bedhead. If you love your electric blanket just turn it off and unplug before getting into bed.

  • Wherever possible avoid wireless devices. If you use Wi-Fi in your home turn the router off when not in use particularly at night and keep it well away from bedrooms.

  • Locate your meterbox.  If it’s on the other side of your bedhead move the bed to the opposite wall to create as much distance as possible.

  • A lot of us use our mobiles for alarms. Put it in flight mode and keep a distance from the bed, you’ll be less likely to hit snooze multiple times.

  • Make your bedroom a safe haven free from synthetic fragrances and chemicals.

  • Opt for mattresses and pillows made out of natural fibres such as natural latex, organic cotton wool, bamboo, hemp, silk and linen.

  • Choose rugs instead of carpets.

THE REASONS

Our bedroom should be a sanctuary a place where the body can rest and regenerate so it’s important that we pay special attention to this room. When it comes to electromagnetic fields it’s all about distance, distance between you and the source.

  • Electromagnetic fields can interfere with our bodies and reduce melatonin levels and stop us getting a good night sleep.  This is why we advise to keep all electronic devices to a minimum and to keep a distance from the bed of a minimum one metre.

  • Synthetic fragrances and perfumes can contain a huge amount of allergens some of which will contain phthalates, which are endocrine disrupting chemicals. Use essential oils rather than perfume and opt for products that don’t contain fragrance (parfum).

  • Conventional mattresses, pillows and sheets can contain a whole host of chemicals. As we spend so much time sleeping it is important to choose the best mattress possible.

  • Rugs are much easier to clean than carpets, which can be problematic especially for those with allergies and asthma.

As has been spoken before by wise men ‘Small changes can create noticeable shifts’ Thich Nhat Hanh.

For further tips  contact me through my website www.healthylivingspaces.com.au to get a copy of my E-book. 

REFERENCES:

Daily Mindfulness

Healthy Living Spaces - Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I have just spent an amazing weekend at the Gawler Foundation on an Essence of Health Retreat with Dr Craig Hassed. In two days I gained incredible insight and information to help me continue on my journey towards greater wellbeing.

Over the course of the weekend we covered the seven pillars of wellbeing:

  • Education

  • Stress Management

  • Spirituality

  • Nutrition

  • Connectedness

  • Environment

For me it brought back to the forefront just how important exercise, good nutrition and a feeling of connectedness to those around us is. I have had periods of my life where I have regularly meditated but often life seemed to get in the way, things got busy and one of the first things that seemed to fall of my wagon was practicing meditation and mindfulness and incorporating into my everyday practices.

After these two days away I can once again see how vital and beneficial this practice is and how much of a difference it can make to our productivity levels and a healthy state of mind. Stress is so much a part of our modern world and although we seem to be more connected then ever before, via the devices we use, in fact more people now feel disconnected and isolated than ever before. Rates of depression are increasing dramatically particularly amongst adolescents with depression and anxiety predicated to be a leading burden of disease in Australia. 

By doing activities with a partner we discovered how ineffective multi-tasking really easy and how the brain really doesn’t operate that way at all. I often practice an hour of power when I am working and I am always amazed at what I can achieve in that time, and I only ever focus on one thing and give it all my attention. That doesn’t mean you can’t be interrupted it just asks you to stop what you are doing focus on what ever the next situation is and then come back to the other one. 

I know from the studies that I have done over the last decade that what we give our attention to has a profound effect on our body but it is easy to forget about this in everyday life and sometimes it takes just taking a couple of days out and attending a retreat like this one, that can help bring it all back to the forefront. 

The most empowering thing I took away this weekend is to know that we have control over our bodies and we can bring them back to good health even when faced with health challenges. The body is capable or re-regulating and re-calibrating itself and is in fact an amazing and complex machine that never ceases to amaze me. We just need to follow the seven pillars of health, feed it well, exercise daily and be mindful of our thoughts and take time just to be still. Of course we need to be aware of our environment and what we are being exposed to on a daily basis and taking measures to avoid anything that could be undermining our immune system and ultimately affecting our health.

Dr Craig Hasseds book The Essence of Health – The Seven Pillars of Well Being can be purchase from the Gawler Foundation http://gawler.org/resources/books/ and it is a fabulous read.

Simple Measures to Protect Our Skin

Healthy Living Spaces - Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Welcome to Healthy Living Spaces. This is my very first blog post and I am a bit excited as I have lots that I want to share with you.  In Melbourne today the winds are up and it is cold, just the type of day to stay indoors. It got me thinking about our skin and all the different products and potions we apply every day. So today I would like to talk about protecting our skin!!

Protecting our skin is as important as what we eat and drink daily.  Today more than ever before we are dealing with toxins in our everyday environments and most of us often don’t realise what we are being exposed to.

In my work one of the first pieces of advice I give to my clients is to become aware of their personal care and cleaning products choices. Often when we start to investigate these and take a good hard look at the ingredients people are genuinely shocked at what we discover. Skin conditions can often be improved with a change of product and the introduction of a shower and/or bath filter.

Skin care products that are full of synthetic chemicals, preservatives and hidden ingredients under the label ‘fragrance’ are not good for us and coat our skin in chemicals that can irritate the skin. Our skin is our largest organ and almost 60% of what we put on it can be absorbed into our bodies. I know most of us assume that what we see on a store shelf must be safe, unfortunately this is a myth. The truth is the majority of the ingredients found in our personal care products have not been tested for their effects on human health.

Today it is easy to get caught up in what we are sold around the pursuit of beauty, the sexy advertisements and the eternal pressure to look younger. In reality the marketing claims made by the cosmetic industry are unregulated and rarely required to be proven. So be aware of the terms natural, hypoallergenic, pure, enriched with collagen, micro vibration etc etc the list is endless.

For all of our daughters it’s important that we teach them that there is so much more to success than superficial beauty based on unhealthy and unrealistic body images. By helping them choose synthetic chemical free products that don’t contain endocrine disrupting chemicals we are teaching them to become informed consumers which is important as they grow older.

We know that the average women uses approximately 12 products each morning before she leaves the house. A lot of these products will contain fragrances, preservatives and a whole host of our chemicals. This could equal approximately 160+ chemicals. The argument from manufacturers is that they are only low doses. Given that we never use one chemical at a time this just isn’t a reasonable argument.

To protect your skin incorporate these simple changes:

  • Read labels and know what you are purchasing. If you need a chemistry degree it may be time to reassess

  • Avoid anything with fragrance and that includes perfumes

  • Choose a natural deodorant that doesn’t contain aluminium

  • Wherever possible simplify your beauty routine

Use the Chemical Maze app to easily identify the ingredients listed on your labels or go to the Environmental Working Groups Skin Deep Database http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ as a resource. Another option is to work with a Building Biologist one on one to go through your own home and make the necessary changes. Remembering that every change no matter how small can make a difference.  Have fun..





  • Incredibly toddlers can put things in their mouth up to 76 times per hour and may ingest up to 10 grams of dust per day
  • Every day around 17,000 litres of air pass through our lungs
  • The CSIRO estimates that the cost of poor indoor air quality in Australia may be as high as $12 billon per year (SOK, 2001).
  • More than 80,000 chemicals have been developed and released into the global environment since the 1950’s. Today the World Health Organisation (WHO) attributes 36% of all childhood deaths to environmental causes.
  • Most European countries don’t chlorinate their water supply and about 97 percent of countries don’t fluoridate their water supply because of health concerns.
  • Use indoor plants to reduce VOC’s from your indoor air.
  • Perfumes may contain many chemicals, one being phthalates which mimic the hormone oestrogen which has been linked to breast cancer.
  • Choose safer plastics such as polypropylene (PP), high density polyethylene (HDPE) and low density polyethylene (LDPE). Never reuse plastic drink bottles and definitely don’t leave them in cars in the hot sun.
  • Waiting for high levels of scientific proof before taking action on electromagnetic fields can lead to a very high health and economic costs, as was the case with asbestos, leaded petrol and tobacco (Council of Europe, 2011)
australasian society of building biologists chemical free community member