The Origin of Our Food

My introduction to this country’s problematic food supply came through the movie Food, Inc. My interest in the subject stemmed from my desperation to turn our family’s health around.

The startling information conveyed in Food, Inc. was enough for me to search for grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish and soy-/corn-free chicken. The more I learned, the more determined I became to feed our family with fresh, organic food, free of additives, hormones, and antibiotics. Farmers markets have now become our primary source of food.

Several years ago, author Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible and The Bean Trees) went a step further. She moved her family to a Virginia farm to learn to grow their own food. She chronicles her experience in the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.

It is an easy, fun read. She eloquently makes the case for a return to our agricultural roots, citing the ominous transition to commodity subsidies, which focus on the production of cheap corn and soybeans.

. . . this new industry made piles of corn and soybeans into high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and thousands of other starch- or oil-based chemicals. Cattle and chickens were brought in off the pasture into intensely crowded and mechanized CAFO’s (concentrated animal feeding operations) where corn – which is no part of a cow’s natural diet, by the way – could be turned cheaply and quickly into animal flesh. All these different products, in turn, rolled on down the new industrial food pipeline to be processed into the soft drinks, burgers, and other cheap foods on which our nation largely runs – or sits on its bottom, as the case may be.

This is how 70% of our Midwestern agricultural land shifted gradually into single-crop corn or soybean farms, each of them now, on average, the size of Manhattan. Owing to synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, genetic modification, and a conversion of farming from a naturally based to a highly mechanized production system, U.S. farmers now produce 3,900 calories per U.S. citizen, per day. That is twice what we need, and 700 more calories a day more than they grew in 1980.

. . .

Most of those calories enter our mouths in forms hardly recognizable as corn and soybeans, or even vegetable in origin: high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) owns up to its parentage, but lecithin, citric acid, maltodextrin, sorbitol, and xanthan gum, for example, are also manufactured from corn. So are beef, eggs, and poultry, in a different but no less artificial process. Soybeans also become animal flesh, or else a category of ingredient known as “added fats.” If every product containing corn or soybeans were removed from your grocery store, it would look more like a hardware store. Alarmingly, the lightbulbs might be naked, since many packaging materials also now contain cornstarch.

Kingsolver goes on to talk about the bigger packages and supersizing, citing our weakness for junk food. Food marketers, she says, exploit the weakness without mercy.

Obesity is generally viewed as a failure of personal resolve, with no acknowledgement of the genuine conspiracy in this historical scheme. People actually did sit in strategy meetings discussing ways to get all those surplus calories into people who neither needed nor wished to consume them. Children have been targeted especially; food companies spend over $10 billion a year selling food brands to kids, and it isn’t broccoli they’re pushing. Overweight children are a demographic in many ways similar to minors addicted to cigarettes, with one notable exception: their parents are usually their suppliers. We all subsidize the cheap calories with our tax dollars, the strategists make fortunes, and the overweight consumers get blamed for the violation. It’s the perfect crime.

The good news in all of this is that the tide is turning. Ever so slowly. As people make the connection between health and food, the demand for organic, nutritionally dense food grows.

As Kingsolver says,

From the rural routes to the inner cities, we are staring at our plates and wondering where that’s been. For the first time since our nation’s food was ubiquitously local, the point of origin now matters again to some consumers.

It sure matters to me and, thankfully, to many others.

About Andrea Fabry

Andrea Fabry and her husband Chris are the parents of nine children ages 26-10. Due to a toxic mold exposure, the family vacated their Colorado home in October 2008. They relocated to Arizona in January 2009. A former radio journalist, Andrea now actively pursues her passion to raise awareness on issues health, nutrition, and environmental illness. Visit Andrea's websites: Our Health Journey at http://moldrecovery.blogspot.com and momsAWARE at www.MomsAware.org

Mold In New Homes

Why are so many mold problems found in newer homes? Some theorize the housing boom a decade ago resulted in too many homes going up too quickly. The Columbus Dispatch featured an article on this very issue a couple of years ago. The article, titled “Newer, poorly constructed homes more likely to harbor fungus,” quotes David Stubbs, a specialist in building systems and indoor air quality. Stubbs believes new-home mold problems often come down to poor workmanship.

“If I built a house 80 or 100 years ago, I was a true craftsman,” said Stubbs, who lived in central Ohio before becoming director of facilities planning and construction for Clarke County Schools in Georgia. “I’d build one house a year. … We don’t build like that today. We take shortcuts.”

Other explanations for the rise of mold problems in newer homes include:

• Oriented strand board, which became a common sheathing material for homes about 20 years ago, absorbs and transfers water more readily than plywood, which was the sheathing of choice for older homes. Even when plywood is used today, it is more likely to be three-ply plywood instead of the four- or five-ply used in earlier homes.

• Stucco is thinner than it used to be, with less cement, and is frequently poorly installed, with two thin coats instead of three thick ones.

• Many homes built during the housing boom used a paper vapor barrier, which can be difficult to properly install, instead of Tyvek or other wraps commonly used in the past few years.

• Newer homes are typically built in empty fields, offering no protection from wind, rain and sun – especially a problem on western exposures.

• Homes built in the past 20 years tend to be tighter than older homes and therefore more likely to trap moisture inside if not properly ventilated, creating what Tom Flood, the president of Air Technology in Hilliard, calls a “giant petri dish.” This was especially a problem in the 1980s and ’90s, when builders commonly put plastic between the studs and drywall as a moisture barrier.

• During the housing boom, homes didn’t receive the attention from swamped inspectors that they might have otherwise.

Steve Verssen, owner of Vertech, a Cincinnati inspection service that has been involved in central Ohio mold cases, recalls teaching a group of home inspectors three or four years ago in a Columbus-area home under construction. A building inspector drove up, jotted down some notes on a clipboard and drove off, without ever approaching the home.

“When things were busy, that’s what happened,” Verssen said.

He thinks some mold problems might be caught if inspectors scrutinized the envelope of a building before it is covered by siding – including the sheathing, the weather wrap and window flashing – in addition to the mechanicals and structural items. (Some city inspectors examine building envelopes, but such inspections are rare.)

Zacks (Benjamin Zacks, a principal in the Zacks Law Group in Columbus) agrees and urges homebuyers to test for mold or moisture if they have any doubts, even if the home passed city inspections.

“People think if the house has a bill of occupancy, it’s safe,” he said. “But it might not be.”

Homeowners who do find mold and hope for relief from their insurance companies are likely to be disappointed. According to the Ohio Insurance Institute, most companies dropped standard mold coverage from their language eight or 10 years ago because of the volume of claims.

ARTICLE RESOURCE:

Newer, poorly constructed homes more likely to harbor fungus. Jim Weiker. The Columbus Dispatch. December 12, 2010.

About Andrea Fabry

Andrea Fabry and her husband Chris are the parents of nine children ages 26-10. Due to a toxic mold exposure, the family vacated their Colorado home in October 2008. They relocated to Arizona in January 2009. A former radio journalist, Andrea now actively pursues her passion to raise awareness on issues health, nutrition, and environmental illness. Visit Andrea's websites: Our Health Journey at http://moldrecovery.blogspot.com and momsAWARE at www.MomsAware.org

Link Between Pesticides and Health

The rampant use of pesticides is one of the great social tragedies of our day, in my opinion.

Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR)’s Environmental Health Policy Institute, an online forum of physicians, health professionals, and environmental health experts, published the following article in response to the question, “How does our food production system drive our exposure to toxic chemicals?

The author, Dr. Joanne Perron, offers this eye-opening answer, drawing on her personal journey with breast cancer and her years of experience as a physician.

As an OB/GYN who trained at Los Angeles County/USC Women’s Hospital during its heyday of 18,000 deliveries per year, I saw countless women with fibroids and ovarian masses the size of term pregnancies and an overwhelming number of third-world-like adverse birth outcomes, maternal and fetal. In those ancient times of the late 80s-early 90s, the prevailing wisdom was that these women, who often lacked preventive care, were the unfortunate carriers of bad genes. When people ask me how I first became interested in environmental causes of disease, I recall that I privately thought, never risking professional scorn as a resident, there had to be another component that conventional medical teachings ignored which contributed to the adverse reproductive disorders I was learning about.

Of course then, my cursory knowledge was only of acute pesticides exposures since many of my patients were migrant farm workers. I surmised that there were mutagenic or genotoxic mechanisms from pesticides responsible for their health problems, but other than the nature vs. nurture debate, had never heard of epigenetic mechanisms in my medical training. So fast forward to 2001 when I started training in integrative medicine with Andrew Weil at the University of Arizona, Tucson. This is when I first heard the term xenoestrogens. I started wondering if chemicals in the water and food supply could be related to the reproductive disorders I was increasingly seeing in a middle class population. I say increasingly, because even women who came to see me for their annual “well woman” exam seemed to have an inordinate number of complaints such as abnormal bleeding, pelvic pain, endometriosis, fibroids, fibrocystic breasts, ovarian cysts, or PMS. And most of these women did not work in agriculture.

I also started wondering if all of the cases of non-familial pre-menopausal breast cancer were due to some environmental causes. And then in 2004, at age 45, having breast fed my sons, never smoked, eaten healthy, and exercised regularly, I too got the diagnosis of breast cancer. And I was the kid who actually liked eating eggplant and other “weird” vegetables. With no family history of breast cancer, I started serious study of the potential environmental causes of breast cancer and while I am aware of the multitude of other environmental contaminants, pesticides were something, as a beginner, I could wrap my mind around.

A close friend from childhood, Kristie, who lived 4 houses away, died at 38 from breast cancer. She had no family history of breast cancer. Additionally, both of her sisters had unexplained infertility (their mom was a “fertile Myrtle”). With every high school reunion, I heard of former classmates who had passed away from different types of cancer. We grew up in the west San Fernando Valley, which had mostly ranches and agriculture until the post WWII building boom. In the late 1950s to early 1970s, many of the schools and residences abutted orange groves, onion fields, and corn fields. Not only do I recall frequent spraying of nearby fields, but also the sweet smell of regular misting from the mosquito trucks during the summer months.

Did early pesticide exposure cause my individual case of breast cancer? My scientific training informs me that I will never know for sure. However, a large body of data is beginning to point the finger at early life, including in-utero, pesticide exposure as a crucial factor in many adverse health outcomes, some occurring many years after initial exposure, that clinicians see on a daily basis, including birth defects, reproductive disorders (male and female), cancers, metabolic disease, neurodevelopmental disorders, and neurological diseases.

To this day, when I talk about epigenetics to same-age colleagues in the trenches, some are disbelieving because they didn’t learn about it in medical school and the journals that they read don’t mention epigenetics, oxidative stress, or even endocrine disruption with linkage to adverse health outcomes. The sentinel 2009 Endocrine Society Scientific Statement should be mandatory reading for every health care professional before assuming practice or getting recertified. Most importantly, it states that there is evidence that endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can have effects on human reproduction, breast development and cancer, prostate cancer, neuroendocrinology, thyroid, metabolism and obesity, and cardiovascular endocrinology. I admit it took my brain a bit of time to rewire and integrate an understanding of the mechanisms underlying epigenetic factors of disease and to appreciate that disruption of the intricate orchestrated endocrine signaling is more complicated than the lock and key theory of hormone function that I learned many moons ago.

This is just a brief summation of the science and concerns that scientists have about pesticides and other EDCs, but what about the local anecdotes that I frequently observe or hear about? From two different sources, I have learned that Stanford hospital receives most of its cases of congenital cardiac defects and childhood cancers from the Salinas valley. Also, that the Monterey/Salinas cancer clinicians are seeing more cases of premenopausal breast cancer from the Salinas area. Monterey County, the salad bowl of the US and the biggest producer of strawberries, is my home. It is an area of exquisite natural beauty, but has some of California’s most polluted streams and rivers from agricultural run-off. I shudder to think of the quality of our drinking water. To add to our woes and potentially contaminate our ground water even more, a great big experiment may soon occur on those who live in proximity to strawberry fields with the December 2010 approval by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation for the use of Über-toxic methyl iodide to fumigate those fields.

Neither does the Pacific Ocean escape the toxic effects of pesticides; the Salinas and Pajaro river watersheds drain those same pesticide laden fields and empty into the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS). Perusal of the MBNMS maps on this site clearly illustrates the color red to indicate “impaired” rivers. Meanwhile, the fishermen wonder where all the salmon have gone and I wonder about the local tide pools that once teemed with loads of hermit crabs, urchins, and starfish for John Steinbeck and my little boys to learn about.

I try not to turn into an Eeyore when I discuss these issues with those I am trying to educate. I often think about the messaging we use in this line of work and how we could better persuade those who are comfortable with the status quo or those who lack knowledge and understanding of the connections between the pervasive use of dangerous chemicals and the health of future generations. At one time I preached about a future scenario similar to the book and movie “Children of Men,” but that didn’t win me any converts. Now, I jokingly tell colleagues that I want to design tee shirts that say “Bugger off, don’t methylate my DNA or perturb my thyroid!” or “Halogens are not for children and other living things.” Mostly, I just breathe deep and acknowledge that I am a foot soldier to take this information to clinicians, policy makers, and patients, but as with many issues in public health this may be a long and arduous march.

About Andrea Fabry

Andrea Fabry and her husband Chris are the parents of nine children ages 26-10. Due to a toxic mold exposure, the family vacated their Colorado home in October 2008. They relocated to Arizona in January 2009. A former radio journalist, Andrea now actively pursues her passion to raise awareness on issues health, nutrition, and environmental illness. Visit Andrea's websites: Our Health Journey at http://moldrecovery.blogspot.com and momsAWARE at www.MomsAware.org

Spring Cleaning Tips

Spring cleaning dates back to the ancient Jewish practice of thoroughly cleansing the home in anticipation of the springtime memorial feast of Passover.

In Persia, the new year falls on the first day of spring. Iranians continue the practice of khooneh tekouni, which means “shaking the house.” Everything is cleaned, from drapes to furniture.

People have long understood the connection between cleanliness and health. When we do a thorough cleaning of our home, we improve the air quality and therefore our health. By investing time and energy in this time-honored custom, we offer a much-needed boost to our own and our family’s immune systems.

Spring is the ideal time to do a deep cleaning, as the windows can be open without intrusion from bugs and heat. Here are ten suggestions for making this year’s spring cleaning a resounding success!

1. Plan ahead and prioritize. Pick one day or a series of days. Mark them on the calendar. Set realistic goals. Pick areas of the home that are often overlooked.

2. Involve the whole family. Children are more capable than we realize. Research suggests that kids who are actively involved in the work of the household gain self-esteem, confidence, and a strong work ethic. Encourage your spouse to participate.

3. De-clutter. The Jewish spring-cleaning tradition requires that every drawer, closet, and cabinet be cleaned and inspected for any item which is no longer needed. Use the opportunity to “clear out” and keep only those things that are used and/or needed. If it hasn’t been used for a year or more, chances are you no longer need it. Call your favorite thrift store or charity to schedule a pickup. Having a date on the calendar will add further motivation.

4. Take everything out. When tackling a closet, shelf, or drawer, take everything out first. It’s tempting to dust around things or do a half-hearted job. Taking everything out before cleaning insures a more rewarding experience. You’ll also make better decisions, since it can be easier to discard rather than put back.

5. Use natural products. Spring is a perfect time to incorporate cheap and natural cleaning products. *Discard your chemical products and try white vinegar and baking soda. Add some essential oils for a pleasant aroma during cleaning. Before disposing of chemicals, look for a hazardous waste disposal site near you.

For more on integrating natural products into your home, see A Naturally Clean Kitchen and The Naturally Healthy Bathroom, as well as our Natural Year Challenge: Household Edition.

6. Download our free checklist: The momsAWARE Dustbusting Dozen – Pay attention to hidden dust collectors. Refrigerator coils, vents, fans, blinds, drapes, and other dust-prone areas may receive little attention during the year. Dust can be a breeding ground for mold. Tending to these areas significantly improves your indoor air quality.

7. Move one piece of large furniture (at least). Enlist the help of family and vacuum under and behind that sofa, bed, desk, refrigerator, washer and/or dryer.

8. Clean bedding, including pillows. If pillows are not machine-washable, consider replacing them. Pillows can be a source of mold, dust, and odors. At the very least, sprinkle with water and toss in the dryer at a high temperature. Consider washing your bedding and drying in the sun for a special “fresh” feeling.

9. Clean the refrigerator. Check expiration dates and toss unwanted or unusable food items, even when they’re half full. Spring is the perfect time for a fresh start!

10. Reward your hard work! Plan a family movie night, go out to dinner, try a new essential oil, or invest in a book to encourage your desire to run an “all-natural household.” Book suggestions include Better Basics for the Home, The Naturally Clean Home, and Super Natural Home.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Some living with Environmental Illness cannot tolerate vinegar and/or essential oils. Many use just the baking soda and many others use peroxide and water, salt or fragrance and chemical free products from their local heath store. The CIA Campaign’s Store offers many great products at a discount and a portion of the proceeds go to the Invisible Disabilities Association and the CIA Campaign.

All Purpose Mystical Cleaner

Alternative Products for the Hair, Body, Laundry and Home

Allergy and Mold Products: Air Purifiers, Bedding, Vacuums and More

About Andrea Fabry

Andrea Fabry and her husband Chris are the parents of nine children ages 26-10. Due to a toxic mold exposure, the family vacated their Colorado home in October 2008. They relocated to Arizona in January 2009. A former radio journalist, Andrea now actively pursues her passion to raise awareness on issues health, nutrition, and environmental illness. Visit Andrea's websites: Our Health Journey at http://moldrecovery.blogspot.com and momsAWARE at www.MomsAware.org

Eco-Friendly and Chemical-Free Easter Eggs

There are healthy, natural alternatives for just about anything! Including this fun option for dying Easter eggs:

According to The Herb Companion,

Dip the hard-boiled eggs into white vinegar before beginning, and set aside. Then bring each dye ingredient (listed below) to a boil with 4 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar; strain the dyes into small dipping bowls and allow to cool.

To dye eggs, dip them into the bowls for about five minutes, or longer for deeper colors. And be creative! Use two different dyes on one egg to create unique colors, or dye eggs half in one color and half in another. Below are the ingredients you need to get the best colors.

• Gold: Use 4 tablespoons of turmeric.

• Brown: Experiment with about 2 cups of strongly brewed coffee or tea for different shades of tan and brown.

• Purple: Use 4 cups of frozen blueberries.

• Light pink: Use a 12-oz. package of cranberries.

• Dark pink: Use 6 cups of chopped beets.

• Blue: Use 16 cups of chopped red cabbage (use 2 more quarts of water and 6 tablespoons more vinegar for this dye).

A similar article suggests using spinach to obtain the color green.

EDITORS NOTE: Some people with chemical sensitivities cannot tolerate vinegar.

About Andrea Fabry

Andrea Fabry and her husband Chris are the parents of nine children ages 26-10. Due to a toxic mold exposure, the family vacated their Colorado home in October 2008. They relocated to Arizona in January 2009. A former radio journalist, Andrea now actively pursues her passion to raise awareness on issues health, nutrition, and environmental illness. Visit Andrea's websites: Our Health Journey at http://moldrecovery.blogspot.com and momsAWARE at www.MomsAware.org

Our Vehicle Journey

When we left our home in October 2008, we brought our cars. We didn’t have much choice. In retrospect I might have agreed to borrow a car until we could figure out a course of action, but we were consumed with finding shelter and replacing necessities.

We vacuumed and wiped them with white vinegar.

Within a couple of weeks we noticed that our symptoms increased when we rode in our 9-passenger Suburban. My worry about cross-contamination increased as well.

In the end we discovered we hadn’t cross-contaminated. According to testing performed later, the cars were clean. But our symptoms were heightened when riding in the Suburban. We simply had to replace it. Most people could tolerate the car just fine, so 6 weeks after we left our home we traded it for a used Honda Odyssey with leather seats. That car felt better. Our headaches and congestion improved. We kept our second car, a Honda CR-V, and tried to use it as little as possible.

In December 2008, I traveled to Arizona with several of our children. Slowly the rest of the family followed. Our three oldest daughters relocated, then our high school senior, Ryan. Four vehicles came with them.

We noticed adverse reactions when riding in any of our old cars. Our multiple chemical sensitivity kicked in shortly after vacating our home. Therefore, any air fresheners or chemicals previously used were no longer tolerated.

We found ways to cope with our older vehicles. Regular HEPA vacuuming helped, and so did wiping down the inside with *tea tree oil and other essential oils. Changing cabin filters might have helped. Here’s what one allergy-friendly website says about cabin filters:

What is a car cabin air filter?

Many car owners don’t even realize that such a part exists in their vehicles, much less if it ever needs to be changed. But, no matter if they know it or not, a cabin air filter is an essential part of your car’s ventilation system that removes pollutants from the air before they get inside the passenger compartment. They were originally designed to remove solid contaminants like dust and soot from circulating inside your vehicle, but can now also absorb gases and odors. Cabin air filters may also be known as passenger compartment filters, interior ventilation filters, pollen filters or dust filters.

Why are the cabin air filters used?

It is an undisputed fact that roadways (especially major highways, especially during rush hours) are some of the major sources of air pollution. Therefore, as you are driving, you are forced to breathe the air tainted with exhaust fumes, dust and soot particles, many of which may pose a serious hazard to your health.

The cabin air filter is there to prevent all those pollutants from entering the passenger compartment.

Why and how often should you change the cabin air filter?

Eventually, a cabin air filter starts to lose its effectiveness, as it gets dirty with use. This may result in unpleasant odor, and decreased heating and air conditioning performance caused by restricted airflow through the filter.

It is recommended to replace the cabin air filter at least once a year or every 12,000 to 15,000 miles – more often if your vehicle is operated primarily in areas of heavy pollution or dusty conditions.

Are cabin air filters difficult to replace?

Cabin air filters are typically located under a vehicle’s dashboard or attached to the glove box. Others may be located in the engine compartment. In nearly all cases, cabin air filters can be changed in as little as 10 minutes.

For instructions on replacing the cabin air filter on a particular car model, go to the Car Cabin Air Filters Main Page and find your vehicle under the appropriate category.

Despite all of the filtration options, it was clear that we needed to replace our vehicles. It took more than two years.

Yesterday afternoon we sold the last car from Colorado. It’s been a slow, arduous process. Finding affordable, used cars with no history of air fresheners, chemicals, or mold has not been easy.

The sale of this last vehicle marks the end of a chapter. The old life is slowly passing. Somehow it also feels like a new beginning.

*Please note that many with chemical sensitivities also react to essential oils and/or vinegar. Seek advice from your medical professional before trying any new products or tips and use with your own discretion.

About Andrea Fabry

Andrea Fabry and her husband Chris are the parents of nine children ages 26-10. Due to a toxic mold exposure, the family vacated their Colorado home in October 2008. They relocated to Arizona in January 2009. A former radio journalist, Andrea now actively pursues her passion to raise awareness on issues health, nutrition, and environmental illness. Visit Andrea's websites: Our Health Journey at http://moldrecovery.blogspot.com and momsAWARE at www.MomsAware.org

Mold Inspection for Apartment

Two of our older children moved to their own apartment recently—yet another sign that we are progressing, albeit ever so slowly.

Transitioning to a new environment brings with it a level of stress and anxiety. How can we be sure it’s mold-free? What about the chemical aspect?

The apartment was worth pursuing since it was all electric and only a year old, with no history of water damage. During the walk-through we detected only a faint chemical smell. No plug-ins, no heavy fragrances, and no musty smell. A good, safe home environment should smell like nothing.

The good news about our condition is that our bodies let us know immediately if there is a serious mold issue, something I’ve encountered three times since leaving our Colorado home. All three times I felt a painful tightening in my chest, which took several days to resolve.

Our next step was to inquire about pesticide sprays. Aside from the initial termite spray used during construction, the apartment had not been sprayed indoors.

Although there was no sign of water damage, we decided to have the apartment inspected using thermal imaging. Infrared thermal imaging will detect hidden areas of moisture. It can also spot structural defects and any potential electrical hazards.

According to this website dedicated to thermal imaging:

Thermal imaging inspections provides us with a picture of a specific condition of a home or building. Infrared cameras allow us the ability to see and locate what the naked eye is unable to detect. Infrared images can capture thermal anomalies from moisture or water damage, roof leaks, stucco, EIFS, chimney staining and window leakage. Infrared Scans are able to locate water and moisture intrusion in buildings by thermal patterns.

Our inspector invited our 11-year-old son to put his hands and feet on the wall to demonstrate the heat-detecting capabilities of the machine.

A thermal imaging inspection can range in cost from $100 to $400, depending on the size of the dwelling and whether or not a full inspection is performed.

Here are some things we did to help remedy the chemical smell:

-Placed activated charcoal in open cups throughout the apartment. Zeolite can also be used.
-Cleaned thoroughly with white vinegar.
-Diffused essential oils like lemon and tea tree oil (Be aware that many with MCS cannot tolerate essential oils; use at your own discretion).
-Ran our air purifier (we like the Austin).

The kids are doing well in their new environment. The only question remaining: Who gets the empty room at our house?

About Andrea Fabry

Andrea Fabry and her husband Chris are the parents of nine children ages 26-10. Due to a toxic mold exposure, the family vacated their Colorado home in October 2008. They relocated to Arizona in January 2009. A former radio journalist, Andrea now actively pursues her passion to raise awareness on issues health, nutrition, and environmental illness. Visit Andrea's websites: Our Health Journey at http://moldrecovery.blogspot.com and momsAWARE at www.MomsAware.org

Allergies and Asthma Linked to Mold

A study released this year says children who live in homes with visible mold are more likely to suffer from asthma and allergies. According to the following article posted on FoxNews.com:

Researchers found that across 61 international studies since the 1990s, children living in water-damaged, moldy homes were more likely to have asthma, wheezing problems or nasal allergies than their peers.

The findings do not prove that mold is the culprit, according to the study’s lead researcher.

However, lab research has suggested that exposure to mold and airborne mold spores can create inflammation in the airways, added Dr. Christina Tischer, of the German Research Center for Environmental Health in Neuherberg.

These latest findings underscore the importance of not only getting rid of visible mold, but also preventing it in the first place, Tischer told Reuters Health in an email.

People often believe that mold is bad news for their lung health, and many studies have supported that idea. But some recent studies have linked certain proteins in mold “components” in the home to a lower risk of asthma and allergies in children. Those components are particular fungus cells that can mix in with house dust.

So for their review, Tischer and her colleagues separated studies that examined visible mold — the most obvious sign of a mold problem — from the smaller number in which researchers measured mold components in household dust samples.

They found that overall, children in homes with visible mold were 49 percent more likely to have asthma than kids not exposed to the problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 10 percent of all American kids have asthma.

Meanwhile, the children’s risk of nasal allergies was 39 percent higher.

Exposure to mold components in house dust was linked to a lower risk of those respiratory ills, the researchers report in the European Respiratory Journal.

In theory, that finding could be due to differences between visible mold and the mold components that are part of the normal mix of bacteria, fungus and other microbes in indoor air.

“Visible mold patches at the walls, or a moldy odor, is indicating that the normal microbial composition is out of kilter, which is most often due to dampness, excessive moisture or building damages,” Tischer explained.

According to one theory — the “hygiene hypothesis” — living with the normal mix of microbes helps young children’s immune systems develop in a way that makes allergic reactions less likely.

Tischer said that getting rid of visible mold “might be a first important step in order to create a healthy environment at home.”

But, she added, the reasons for the mold problem have to be addressed too. That means steps like repairing leaky plumbing or other sources of water damage, and lowering humidity in the home with better ventilation.

About Andrea Fabry

Andrea Fabry and her husband Chris are the parents of nine children ages 26-10. Due to a toxic mold exposure, the family vacated their Colorado home in October 2008. They relocated to Arizona in January 2009. A former radio journalist, Andrea now actively pursues her passion to raise awareness on issues health, nutrition, and environmental illness. Visit Andrea's websites: Our Health Journey at http://moldrecovery.blogspot.com and momsAWARE at www.MomsAware.org

Formaldehyde and Styrene

I used to avoid reading about dangerous substances. I didn’t like hearing about things that might do me harm.

Now I gravitate to these articles. I love reading about toxicity. Our mold exposure turned me around. Truth is not easy to hear. But it’s freeing.

Avoiding chemicals is impossible. Making wise choices is not. Last week the government added formaldehyde to their growing list of cancer-causing substances. According to the following Reuters article:

The government on Friday added formaldehyde, a substance found in plastics and other commonly used products, to a list of known carcinogens and warned that the chemical styrene might cause cancer.

In a report prepared for the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), scientists warned that people with higher exposure to formaldehyde were more at risk for nasopharyngeal cancer, myeloid leukemia and other cancers.

“There is now sufficient evidence from studies in humans to show that individuals with higher measures of exposure to formaldehyde are at increased risk for certain types of rare cancers …,” the Report on Carcinogens said.

Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical widely used to make resins for household items, such as composite wood products, paper product coatings, plastics, synthetic fibers, Formaldehyde and Styrene
I used to avoid reading about dangerous substances. I didn’t like hearing about things that might do me harm.

Now I gravitate to these articles. I love reading about toxicity. Our mold exposure turned me around. Truth is not easy to hear. But it’s freeing.

Avoiding chemicals is impossible. Making wise choices is not. Last week the government added formaldehyde to their growing list of cancer-causing substances. According to the following Reuters article:

The government on Friday added formaldehyde, a substance found in plastics and other commonly used products, to a list of known carcinogens and warned that the chemical styrene might cause cancer.

In a report prepared for the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), scientists warned that people with higher exposure to formaldehyde were more at risk for nasopharyngeal cancer, myeloid leukemia and other cancers.

“There is now sufficient evidence from studies in humans to show that individuals with higher measures of exposure to formaldehyde are at increased risk for certain types of rare cancers …,” the Report on Carcinogens said.

Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical widely used to make resins for household items, such as composite wood products, paper product coatings, plastics, synthetic fibers, , and textile finishes.

It is also commonly used as a preservative in medical laboratories, mortuaries, and some consumer products, including hair straightening products.

The report, produced by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), also added styrene to the list of substances that were reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens.

Styrene is a synthetic chemical used in the manufacture of products such as rubber, plastic, insulation, fiberglass, pipes, automobile parts, food containers, and carpet backing.

The greatest exposure to styrene in the general population is through cigarette smoking, the report said.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC), an industry group, lashed out at the report, saying it was concerned that politics may have hijacked the scientific process.

“Today’s report by HHS made unfounded classifications of both formaldehyde and styrene and will unnecessarily alarm consumers,” Cal Dooley, president and CEO of the ACC, said in a statement.

Jennifer Sass of the National Resources Defense Council, a U.S. environmental group, praised the government for publishing the report in the face of what she described as pressure by chemical companies to prevent its release.

“The chemical industry fought the truth, the science, and the public — but, in the end our government experts came through for us, giving the public accurate information about the health risks from chemicals that are commonly found in our homes, schools, and workplaces,” Sass wrote in a blog.

The report also listed aristolochic acids, found in some plants, as a known carcinogen and added the fungicide captafol, some inhalable glass wool fibers, cobalt-tungsten carbide, riddelliine and o-Nitrotoluene to the list of substances reasonably anticipated to be carcinogens.

It, however, said listing the substances did not in itself mean they would cause cancer. Amount and duration of exposure, and susceptibility to a substance were among the many factors that affected whether a person developed cancer, it said.

The government report may be viewed here.

What can we do to offset our exposure to these chemicals? Here are a couple of options:

1. Invest in an air purifier for your home, office, or school. Austin Air Systems offers high quality. The HealthMate+ is specifically designed to deal with chemical vapors. Click here to find out more.

2. An immediate and more affordable option is zeolite. Zeolite actually attracts odors and gases and traps them in its crystalline structure. Click here to view one provider of zeolite granules.

About Andrea Fabry

Andrea Fabry and her husband Chris are the parents of nine children ages 26-10. Due to a toxic mold exposure, the family vacated their Colorado home in October 2008. They relocated to Arizona in January 2009. A former radio journalist, Andrea now actively pursues her passion to raise awareness on issues health, nutrition, and environmental illness. Visit Andrea's websites: Our Health Journey at http://moldrecovery.blogspot.com and momsAWARE at www.MomsAware.org

Toxic Mold Uproots Family’s Health and Home

Chris and Andrea Fabry were living a wonderful life with 9 children in a gorgeous home, surrounded by the beauty of Colorado. Yet, the Fabrys could never have been prepared for what was about to happen.

In 2007, they discovered mold in behind a shower, adjacent to their bedroom, then in 2008 they found more under another shower. Each time, they had the mold remediated, but unexplainable, declining health issues continued amongst the kids and even the pets. In October of 2009, they had to evacuate their home and abandon their possessions.

Since that time, the family has been living in Arizona and diligently working on recovery. As a former journalist,  Andrea shares their stories, progress and what she learns in order to help others going through the same struggles: Our Health Journey and momsAWARE.

Chris and Andrea co-host a radio program called Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman. Chris is also an author and the host of Chris Fabry Live.

We are elated to announce that Andrea just joined the Cleaner Indoor Air Campaign as a blogger. Welcome, Andrea and thank you for caring about others living with mold injury and other environmental conditions!

Read more from Andrea on CIAC.

Above video from CBN News about the Fabry’s story.


Andrea’s Video for the Invisible Disabilities Association’s campaign, Invisible No More!

ARTICLE RESOURCES:

Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman

Chris and Andrea Fabry on Building Relationships

CBN News – The Hidden Dangers of Mold Exposure

Invisible No More: Andrea Fabry

MomsAgainstMold.org

Our Health Journey

Read more from Andrea on Cleaner Indoor Air

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