Full Text of the Latest Australian Fragrance Study by Professor Anne Steinemann–for Translation Purposes

Health and societal effects from exposure to fragranced consumer products

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Anne Steinemann

Department of Infrastructure Engineering, Melbourne School of Engineering, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia College of Science, Technology and Engineering, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland 4811, Australia Climate, Atmospheric Sciences, and Physical Oceanography, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

a r t i c l e  i n f o

Article history: Received 25 September 2016 Received in revised form 5 November 2016 Accepted 12 November 2016 Available online 14 November 2016

Keywords: Fragranced consumer products, Migraines, Asthma, Fragrance-free policies, Indoor air quality

A b s t r a c t

Fragranced consumer products—such as air fresheners, cleaning supplies, and personal care products— pervade society. This study investigated the occurrence and types of adverse effects associated with exposure to fragranced products in Australia, and opportunities for prevention. Data were collected in June 2016 using an on-line survey with a representative national sample (n = 1098). Overall, 33% of Australians report health prob- lems, such as migraine headaches and asthma attacks, when exposed to fragranced products. Of these health ef- fects, more than half (17.1%) could be considered disabling under the Australian Disability Discrimination Act. Additionally, 7.7% of Australians have lost workdays or a job due to illness from fragranced product exposure in the workplace, 16.4% reported health problems when exposed to air fresheners or deodorizers, 15.3% from being in a room after it was cleaned with scented products, and 16.7% would enter but then leave a business as quickly as possible due to fragranced products. About twice as many respondents would prefer that work- places, health care facilities and professionals, hotels, and airplanes were fragrance-free rather than fragranced. While 73.7% were not aware that fragranced products, even ones called green and organic, emitted hazardous air pollutants, 56.3% would not continue to use a product if they knew it did. This is the first study in Australia to assess the extent of adverse effects associated with exposure to common fragranced products. It provides com- pelling evidence for the importance and value of reducing fragranced product exposure in order to reduce and prevent adverse health effects and costs. © 2016 Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

1. Introduction

Contrary to popular belief, most exposure to hazardous pollutants that affect health and well-being occurs indoors (Ott et al., 2007; Brown, 2007). A primary source of these indoor pollutants and expo- sures is common fragranced consumer products, such as air fresheners, cleaning products, laundry supplies, and personal care products (Cheng et al., 2015; Nazaroff and Weschler, 2004; Steinemann et al., 2011). Exposure to fragranced products has been associated with a range of adverse human health effects, including migraine headaches, contact dermatitis, asthma attacks, respiratory difficulties, and mucosal symp- toms (e.g., Kelman, 2004; Caress and Steinemann, 2009; Elberling et al., 2005; Millqvist et al., 1999; Johansen, 2003; Kumar et al., 1995). In two previous surveys, Caress and Steinemann (2009) found that 17.5% and 20.5% of the general US population (between 2002–3 and 2005–6 respectively) reported breathing difficulties, headaches, or other health problems when exposed to air fresheners and deodorizers. Fragranced consumer products emit dozens of different volatile compounds, including terpenes (e.g., limonene, alpha-pinene, and
E-mail address: anne.steinemann@unimelb.edu.au.

beta-pinene) that are primary pollutants, and that react with ozone to generate secondary pollutants such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde (Nazaroff and Weschler, 2004). Even so-called green and organic fragranced products emit hazardous pollutants, similar to regular fragranced products. Little information exists, however, on potentially hazardous compounds emitted from fragranced products, in part be- cause products are not required to disclose all ingredients (Steinemann, 2015). Thus, knowledge of potential exposures and effects is essential to effective risk reduction. This study investigates the occurrence and types of exposures to fragranced products and associated health and societal effects in the Australian population. Further, it investigates the potential for preven- tive measures, such as fragrance-free policies, to reduce health risks and costs.

2. Methods

An on-line survey was conducted of the adult Australian population, using a national random sample representative of age, gender, and state (n = 1098, 95% confidence level with a 3% margin of error). The survey instrument, a 35-item questionnaire, was developed and tested over a two-year period, including cognitive testing with 10 individuals and

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2016.11.011 2211-3355/© 2016 Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

46 A. Steinemann / Preventive Medicine Reports 5 (2017) 45–47
piloting with over 100 individuals, before full implementation in June 2016. The survey drew upon participants from a large web-based Aus- tralian panel (over 200,000 people) held by Survey Sampling Interna- tional. Participant recruitment followed a randomized process (SSI, 2016) with an open invitation, rather than a direct invite, to the pool of panelists available at the time. The pool was filtered to achieve a rep- resentative sample through a set of initial questions for basic demo- graphic characteristics. All responses were anonymous. Average survey completion time was approximately 10 min. Survey response rate was 93%. Only completed questionnaires were included in the final data analysis. The research study received ethics approval from the University of Melbourne. Details of the survey methodology, as well as statistical analyses of questionnaire data and for results summa- rized below, are provided as supplemental documents. The questionnaire investigated both personal and public exposure to fragranced products, health effects related to exposures, impacts of fra- grance exposure in the workplace and in public places, awareness of fragranced product ingredients and labeling, preferences for fra- grance-free environments and policies, and demographic information. The questionnaire provided one question on each page, with multiple choice and open format answers; five sets of questions were random- ized for their multiple choice items, and eight questions were condition- ally displayed based on responses to other items. Data were collected and analyzed in June 2016. Fragranced consumer products were investigated in the following categories: (a) Air fresheners and deodorizers; (b) Personal care prod- ucts; (c) Cleaning supplies; (d) Laundry products; (e) Household prod- ucts; (f) Fragrance; and (g) Other. Health effects were investigated in the following categories: (a) Migraine headaches; (b) Asthma attacks; (c) Neurological problems; (d) Respiratory problems; (e) Skin prob- lems; (f) Cognitive problems; (g) Mucosal symptoms; (h) Immune sys- tem problems; (i) Gastrointestinal problems; (j) Cardiovascular problems; (k) Musculoskeletal problems; (j) Other health problems. The categories of fragranced products and health effects were devel- oped from prior studies (Steinemann, 2015; Caress and Steinemann, 2009; Miller and Prihoda, 1999), and pre-tested and piloted with over 100 individuals, including health care professionals, before full survey implementation.

3. Results

Overall, 98.5% of the Australian population is exposed to fragranced products at least once a week from either their own use (98%), others’ use (88.1%), or both. From their own use, 66.8% are exposed to air fresh- eners and deodorizers at least once a week; 91.6% personal care prod- ucts; 83.2% cleaning supplies; 84.3% laundry products; 77.1% household products; 69.6% fragrance; 2.3% other. From others’ use, 50.8% are exposed to air fresheners and deodorizers at least once a week; 61.5% personal care products; 50.7% cleaning supplies; 44.3% laundry products; 49.6% household products; 67.8% fragrance; 1.8% other. Importantly, 33% of the general population reported one or more types of health problems associated with exposure to one or more types of fragranced products. The most common types of adverse health effects were as follows: 16.7% of the population reported respiratory problems; 14.0% mucosal symptoms; 10.0% migraine headaches; 9.5% skin problems; 7.6% asthma attacks; 4.5% neurological problems; 4.1% cognitive problems; 3.3% gastrointestinal problems; 3.3% immune sys- tem problems; 3.0% cardiovascular problems; 2.6% musculoskeletal problems; and 1.9% other. When exposed to air fresheners or deodorizers, 16.4% experience health problems; these include respiratory problems (9.1%), mucosal symptoms (6.2%), skin problems (4.8%), asthma attacks (4.5%), mi- graine headaches (4.2%), neurological problems (2.2%), among other adverse effects. In addition, in other types of exposure situations, 15.3% reported health problems from being in a room after it was

cleaned with scented products, 6.1% from the scent of laundry products from dryer vents, and 19.4% from being near someone wearing a fragranced product. For 17.1% of the population, the severity of the health problems was reported to “result in a total or partial loss of bodily or mental functions,” which is a criterion for determining disability under the Australia Disability Discrimination Act (DDA, 1992). Fragranced products also hindered access in society. Of the general population, 11.6% are unable or reluctant to use the toilets in a public place, because of the presence of an air freshener, deodorizer, or scented product. Also, 10.3% are unable or reluctant to wash their hands with soap in a public place, because they know or suspect that the soap is fragranced. Further, 15.0% have been prevented from going to some place because they would be exposed to a fragranced product that would make them sick. Interestingly, 16.7% of the population reported that if they enter a business, and smell air fresheners or some fragranced product, they want to leave as quickly as possible. Finally, 7.7% have lost work days or a job (in the past 12 months) due to exposures to fragranced products in the workplace. Fragranced products emit a range of chemicals, including hazardous air pollutants, but ingredients do not need to be fully disclosed on the product label or material safety data sheet. Even so-called green and or- ganic fragranced products can emit hazardous pollutants, similar to reg- ular products (Steinemann, 2015). Of the population surveyed, 47.2% were not aware that a “fragrance” in a product is typically a chemical mixture of several dozen to several hundred chemicals, 68.6% were not aware that fragrance chemicals do not need to be fully disclosed on the product label or material safety data sheet, 68.9% were not aware that fragranced products typically emit hazardous air pollutants such as formaldehyde, and 73.7% were not aware that even so-called natural, green, and organic fragranced products typically emit hazard- ous air pollutants. However, 56.3% would not still use a fragranced prod- uct if they knew it emitted hazardous air pollutants. Fragrance-free indoor environments received widespread support. Of the general population, 42.8% would be supportive of a fragrance- free policy in the workplace (compared with 22.2% that would not), 43.2% would prefer that health care facilities and health care profes- sionals be fragrance-free (compared with 25.2% that would not). Also, 57.7% would prefer flying on an airplane without scented air pumped through the passenger cabin (compared with 16.3% with scented air), and 55.6% would prefer staying in a hotel without fragranced air (com- pared with 22.7% with fragranced air).

4. Discussion

The problem of fragranced products is sweeping Australia and other countries, resulting in adverse health effects, lost workdays, and inabil- ity to access public places, such as restrooms and businesses. While the use of fragranced products may be premised on that they improve in- door air quality, the contrary is actually the case; that is, fragranced products emit and generate a complex mixture of chemical pollutants, including carcinogenic hazardous air pollutants, but nearly all are undis- closed. While further research is needed to better understand which chemicals and mixtures are associated with the effects, what is known is that the products are reportedly causing adverse effects in a sizeable (33%) percentage of the population. Further, the effects can be immedi- ate, severe, and potentially disabling. Important implications for prevention arise from this study. First, for workplaces and other environments, fragrance-free policies would be a logical step, benefiting employees, employers, and the public. Such pol- icies have been implemented in workplaces, schools, hospitals, and public and private buildings around the world. As an example, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Indoor Environmental Qual- ity Policy (CDC, 2009) states that “Scented or fragranced products are prohibited at all times in all interior space owned, rented, or leased by CDC.” Second, for individuals, fragranced products can be removed from use, or swapped out for fragrance-free products with similar

A. Steinemann / Preventive Medicine Reports 5 (2017) 45–47 47
functionality. A fragrance in a product is not intended to clean the air or reduce air pollutants. Thus, it could be asked whether the perceived benefits of use are dwarfed by the costs to personal and public health. Third, for businesses, fragranced products may actually repel more cus- tomers than attract, as well as create potential liability; e.g., the use of air fresheners in a business can cause potentially disabling effects in cus- tomers. Fourth, for medical professionals and patients, when faced with health problems such as headaches, respiratory difficulties, muco- sal symptoms, rashes, asthma, and others, consider the possibility that fragranced products could be a contributor. Finally, for public officials, the problem of “secondhand scents,” or indirect exposure to fragranced products, has parallels to secondhand tobacco smoke. Prevention from fragrance product exposure will enable individuals to work in their workplaces, attend school, and function in society without suffering in- voluntary harm.

5. Conclusion

This study found that common fragranced products can trigger ad- verse effects throughout the Australian population, with consequences for public health, workplaces, businesses, and societal wellbeing. It also indicates that some relatively straightforward and inexpensive ap- proaches, such as fragrance-free policies, could not only reduce health risks but also increase revenues and societal access. While research is needed to fully understand why fragranced products are associated with a range of adverse health effects, and in a substantial portion of the population, it is important to take steps in the meantime to reduce or eliminate exposure for prevention and public health.

Conflicts of interest

None.

Acknowledgments

I thank Amy Davis and Jim Repace for their very helpful reviews of this article. I also thank Amy Davis, Jim Repace, Alison Johnson, John Branco, Susan Felderman, Claudia Miller, Rudy Rodolfo, Lynn Heilbrun, Robert Damiano, Taylor Williams for their valuable reviews of the

survey and results. The research received funding from Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub, at the University of Melbourne, through the Australia Department of the Environment. Finally, I thank the staff of Survey Sampling International for their superb work.

References

Brown, S.K., 2007. Indoor Air Quality, Australia: State of the Environment Technical Paper Series (Atmosphere). Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, Canberra. Caress, S.M., Steinemann, A.C., 2009. Prevalence of fragrance sensitivity in the American population. J. Environ. Health 71 (7), 46–50. CDC, 2009. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Indoor Environmental Quality Policy, pages. :pp. 9–10 Available:. http://www.drsteinemann.com/Resources/CDC% 20Indoor%20Environmental%20Quality%20Policy.pdf. Cheng, M., Galbally, I.E., Molloy, S.B., et al., 2015. Factors controlling volatile organic com- pounds in dwellings in Melbourne, Australia. Indoor Air 26 (2), 219–230. DDA, 1992. Australian Disability Discrimination Act, Australian Government. Act No. 135 of 1992. Availalble at:. https://www.legislation.gov.au/Series/C2004A04426. Elberling, J., Linneberg, A., Dirksen, A., et al., 2005. Mucosal symptoms elicited by fra- grance products in a population-based sample in relation to atopy and bronchial hyper-reactivity. Clin. Exp. Allergy 35 (1), 75–81. Johansen, J.D., 2003. Fragrance contact allergy: a clinical review. Am. J. Clin. Dermatol. 4 (11), 789–798. Kelman, L., 2004. Osmophobia and taste abnormality in migraineurs: a tertiary care study. Headache 44 (10), 1019–1023. Kumar, P., Caradonna-Graham, V.M., Gupta, S., Cai, X., Rao, P.N., Thompson, J., 1995. Inha- lation challenge effects of perfume scent strips in patients with asthma. Ann. Allergy Asthma Immunol. 75 (5), 429–433. Miller, C.S., Prihoda, T.J., 1999. The environmental exposure and sensitivity inventory (EESI): a standardized approach for measuring chemical intolerances for research and clinical applications. Toxicol. Ind. Health 15 (34), 370–385. Millqvist, E., Bengtsson, U., Löwhagen, O., 1999. Provocations with perfume in the eyes in- duce airway symptoms in patients with sensory hyperreactivity. Allergy 54 (5), 495–499. Nazaroff, W.W., Weschler, C.J., 2004. Cleaning products and air fresheners: exposure to primary and secondary air pollutants. Atmos. Environ. 38, 2841–2865. Ott, W., Steinemann, A., Wallace, L. (Eds.), 2007. Exposure Analysis. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. SSI (Survey Sampling International), 2016. Dynamix Sampling Approach.Available at:. https://www.surveysampling.com/technology/ssi-dynamix/ (accessed August 3, 2016). Steinemann, A., 2015. Volatile emissions from common consumer products. Air Qual. Atmos. Health 8 (3), 273–281. Steinemann, A.C., MacGregor, I.C., Gordon, S.M., et al., 2011. Fragranced consumer prod- ucts: chemicals emitted, ingredients unlisted. Environ. Impact Assess. Rev. 31 (3), 328–333.

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

4 Disability Assistive Devices I need to Survive

My top 4 Assistive Devices for Mould Illness (CIRS) and Medical Conditions with Chemical Sensitivity as a Symptom!

(Note this page has a formatting issue that has removed my paragraph breaks so it’s in the naughty chair until I can fix it! This always happens when I embed Instagram posts. If you have a solution or know why this happens please leave a comment below or call me.)

Anybody who thinks that people who have medical conditions where their health is impacted on via chemical-irritants are living in the wrong era have it mixed up: living with modern technology makes our lives easier. The mythology that exists that we just can’t cope with the modern world and chemicals—which lets face it are everywhere and in everything—is exactly that: a myth. H20 is a chemical. We need chemicals, we need electricity for our assertive devices and we need devices that can make life living with a chronic illness, disease or other medical condition a whole lot easier. If someone has environmental illness it doesn’t mean they belong in the 1900s’ with all natural pure stuff, in a hut living a paleo lifestyle. No, it means that we need chemical-based extensibly helpful assistive devices like Air Purifiers, Face masks, Oxygen masks and tanks and, my personal favourite: a dehumidifier! Here is a listicle of my top 4!:

My Oxygen Tanks from BOC Gases

These make such a difference to my life that I cannot imagine living without them—until I get better and don’t need them, that is. I use 1 large tank and 1 medium size tank approximately every ten days. At the moment my carer pays for them, but will be applying for Government assistance soon. The biggest difference they make are when it’s smokey outside yet the smoke makes it’s way inside and into my lungs. For the last 14 years I’ve suffered upper respiratory symptoms from inhalation of woodsmoke coming from neighbours’ chimneys. Luckily for me, I live in a holiday area so it’s only terribly bad on the weekends when the terrorists holiday makers come up.

They’re also useful for when someone nearby runs diesel trucks, mows the lawn using old lawnmowers that spew out two-stroke fuel, or run their boat motors after a day of fishing while they clean it; petrochemicals knock me out for the rest of the day at the moment.

The oxygen therapy was prescribed by my doctor to be used 2 times a day for 20 minutes and also for 20 minutes after an exposure to chemical-irritants and natural substances that cause pain, long-lasting symptoms and further sensitisation—as is the case with mould exposure. Actually, I’ve been using oxygen whenever I write and also while on the phone and sometimes even while making a video because the oxygen allows my brain to work as normal. The last 6 months have seen a huge decline in cognitive skills, short-term memory and emotional regulation in times of chemical exposure. Stress just makes it ten-fold, and the anticipation of all of these can cause anxiety, which I’ve not experienced before at such a high level. 

Oxygen therapy has helped this CIRS symptom the most: It’s like feeling completely lost in an unfamiliar place even though you know you are somewhere where you’ve been a 1000 times before. If this place is on a freeway, it’s terribly frightening.

  xxxI can empathise greatly with those who suffer Alzheimers with dementia symptoms, which, over a 6 week period, is what I thought was happening to me before I saw Dr Mark Donohoe and had the Neuroquant MRI, which allowed the diagnosis of CIRS (Mould Illness) to come about so quickly. Hence being put on oxygen. (It’s also useful for doing yoga deep breathing exercises.

On some days, I can get through a 40-45 minute session of yoga with Banana Blondie 108 She has some wonderful chest opening exercises in her ‘Heart Chakra’ Yoga series. And for $10 US a month, it’s great value. You can find these classes at Thriving Plant Based There is free yoga available also. I have a post coming up on the value of the Chakra series with my lovely, gifted virtual yoga teacher!)


My AusClimate Dehumidifier

I’ve blogged before about my AusClimate dehumidifier in the post titled, This One Sure Thing: My AusClimate Dehumidifier, however, even more so than my next device, an air-filter/purifier, due to the breathing issues I have with indoor and outdoor moulds, keeping the relative humidity low is a must for comfortable breathing. There is no point having oxygen to plug into my airways if the air is full of outdoor moulds; or moulds from the water damaged ceiling in the room sealed off from my main living area. When I moved in I was told by my real estate rentals manager that the ceiling had been fixed as it was something I was concerned about when I saw the tell tale water stains on the ceiling. I believed my estate agent, and I still do.

However, a year or so after moving in it began leaking after a terrible storm. The owners of the property and the estate agent sent out someone to replace the roof; but even before that happened I was on the forum of AESSRA asking about dehumidifiers. I didn’t like what I heard so I looked on the internet under the keywords ‘mould’, ‘dehumidifiers’ and ‘mould remediation’; and that was how I came to find AusClimate. Not only was I given excellent advice on how to use my machine, like:

  • running it for 3 whole days to remove all the water from the indoor environment;
  • keep the dust mite count down (the perfect food for mould!) by vacuuming regularly; and using micro cloths to pick up dust without spreading it;
  • advice on how to keep my home mould free (so long as the water leaks had been fixed—and, with the new roof the owners of the rental put over my head, they were, for the time being, until now with this new 3rd leak. Stain over stain on the old chipboard/particle board ceiling.
  • this machine has saved my lungs a huge amount of pain because not only has the roof leaked again (which I will be blogging about in another post where I compare the AusClimate dehumidifier to the Delonghi Dehumidifier, which I have running 24/7 in the water damaged room: it’s that inefficient. And my ERMI results.) but I’ve had to put up with even more damp air
  • at least I have my AusClimate 35 litre machine to keep my living space dry, therefore, hopefully, no mould can grow on my possessions? I don’t know. If you have the answer to this, please leave it in the comments below…

But whenever it rains outside, I whack on the dehumidifier! This stops my lower lungs from hurting from the dampness in the air if I didn’t have it running. (I don’t know why my lower lungs hurt when I breathe in damp, cold or smokey air but my GP and Dr Donohoe are looking into it via an x-ray and Spirometry test, which I’m doing next week along with my tests for the Biotoxins and other bacteria shown up in my MRI.)

My living area is around 45 square metres, making up the lounge, dining room and kitchen (that’s where my bedroom, office, gym and dining area are). I never run it for longer than 5-6 hours at a time; however, once a month I run it for a whole day or night when I am out of the house. It’s so powerful that if I leave it on for too long, I can feel my eyes start to dry out, which is just a sign to turn it off. It’s winter here in Melbourne and not only do I need to suck up the cold damp air with the Dehumidifiers, I need to dry my washing inside because if I leave it outside in the rain, it gets mildewy and even worse, reeks of the chemical-irritants in woodsmoke. I have made a video about using this machine to dry my clothes, which you can watch below. 

(If you cannot watch it, basically it just shows how I hang my clothing and cleaning cloths (dusters) on a large portable clothes hanger overnight with the AusClimate running. By morning my clothing is clean, fresh and dry ready to be put away.)

xxx I’ve also made a video on how I clean it once a month. Ergo, I intend to make a video on how we clean the whole unit, fully, once or twice a year. I have heard stories of other units going mouldy—I mean they do suck up water and dust—so do need to be maintained just like any other household device. Watch the video below, and then we shall move onto clean air!

[insert video 2: How to thoroughly clean your Dehumidifier]
[Insert Video 3 on how to stop would smoke coming inside while taking a shower]

My 3M Filter Mask and Cotton Scarf

I’ve blogged about it and made a video about how useful the 3M mask has been to me over the years. 14 to be exact! Although, it used to give me a lot of freedom, it’s not longer useful unless it’s for fleeting exposures like going to the letterbox or stepping outside for a bit. When I go out I now use it with the oxygen nasal tubes underneath and it works like a charm. Amazingly so. I buy my masks from AESSRA (The Allergy and Environmental Sensitivity, Support and Research Association)


My InovaAir Purifier (Air Filter)

In 2004 I rented an Austin Air purifier to see if it worked for me. I had it two weeks and realised I needed one; therefore, I took out a small bank loan, immediately buying one. The InovaAir Purifier is almost the same design just more modern and sleek looking. It’s on wheels so can me moved about; has the reputation of cleaning the air of a small to decent size room within 15-20 minutes so long as its clean to begin with. For example: your house has clean air in it after airing it throughout a fresh sunny day, evening comes and you forget to close up the house, allowing woodsmoke from a neighbour’s backyard fire pit or woodfire chimney to get inside your house. The air is no longer comfortable to breathe on a physical level, naturally, you close up your house, turning on your InnovaAir or Austin Air Purifier onto high. Within 15 minutes your room is back to being clean again. This may not take away the inflammation or headache or asthma caused but it will stop any more smoke from impacting on your health.

(There are some other tips and tricks I have ready in another draft post that I’ll try and post before winter rudely sets in but for now, know that I go through a lot of painters’ masking tape (it’s less sticky and doesn’t pull paintwork off) and cotton wool blocking up holes where drafts pull the chimney smoke in.)

Where I get my Oxygen from: BOC Homecare (via prescription)

Where I bought my AusClimate Dehumidifier from: AusClimate online

Where I but my 3M Masks: AESSRA

Where I bought my InovaAir Purifier from: InovaAir online

Information on woodsmoke, rules for chimneys and Parliament Enquiries into the use of them: http://woodsmoke.3sc.net

Lung Association and Woodsmoke: Air Quality and Woodsmoke: http://lungfoundation.com.au/lung-health/air-quality-and-woodsmoke/

(image art by Michellina van Loder and Pixabay)

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

How to Avoid Slab Moisture Ingress

Slab moisture ingress can cause indoor mould growth because it not only adds moisture and humidity to the indoor air environment but it can also cause the house to act as a petri dish where mould will grow, spreading spores around the house. This can happen if it hasn’t cured properly, of if there are gardens with soil covering the weep holes—small rectangular spaces left between the bricks at the bottom of the outside wall—where moisture from inside the building envelope can’t escape. Another reason is the slope of the property, rainfall needs to drain away: Don’t expect that ridiculously heavy rainfall will soak into the ground, it needs to run away from the property of into drainage channels.

I found out the consequences of slab moisture ingress at my last residence, before this rental property, when I lived in The House of Mouldy Horrors. (I do have a post in my drafts folder titled, The House of Mouldy Horrors, which is why I have been referencing it in my posts for like, the last two years or is it three now?), on how we (My Daughter and I) managed to remediate this situation including most of our possession kept in the house, including medical assistive devices such as InovaAir Purifiers but due to the stress or ustress (stress you use to create action), that I’m under, I’d rather not think about that right now. I have a mould-free house to build; or rather, lay in bed an write about it. I’ve not been there since I became chronically ill from a bunch of things at the house.)

(Just a note to new readers: my health went from good to bad in The House of Mouldy Horrors, and I suffered painful symptoms that were the beginning of chronic illness on top of chronic illness, I now react to outdoor moulds as well. I’m trying to get on top of this; and I’m trying to build a safer, mould-free home, where I WILL recover. Right now though, I can smell damp soil all the time because I live in a draughty beach-house. One doctor, recently diagnosed me with “what appears to be CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome) caused by mould” illness. Another doctor, my main Allergist, says I do indeed get sick from mould but he also says, “It’s not your only problem.”, meaning inhalant allergies to other chemicals other than mould.)

Damp patch of concrete causing humidity and mould in the house efflorescence (a build up of a white coloured powdery substance)

The inside part of the house’s slab edge during wet winter months

Damp patch after drying out (before vacuum) with salt powder efflorescence (a build up of a white coloured powdery substance)

The inside part of the house’s slab edge during dry summer months

The white patches are efflorescence (a build up of a (harmless) white coloured powdery substance). The three rooms, all bedrooms, that had these wet patches in the concrete, coming from the slab edges that ran parallel with the outdoor gardens originally had carpet in them. When I moved into this house, the owner removed the carpets due to my allergies; ergo, if we hadn’t of done this it may have taken longer for the concrete leak to become apparent. I imagine the carpet would have taken on a mildewy odour–but not before the mycotoxins (the chemical in mould) outgassed into the air making me ill. Instead, each time it rained heavily, the house took on the odour of damp soil. And then I got sicker. It was inconvenient to pack up and move but necessary.

Those photos were taken in the main bedroom where I slept for the first year in that house; it had a garden bed and a tap on the outside of the house, running parallel to my to the room.

As a precaution, for the Build an Eco-Friendly, Allergy-Free House project, we’ve particularly asked our plumber, Kale from KLM Plumbing not to install any taps near the edge of the house anywhere near the slab edges.

We’re also not putting any garden beds or grassy areas around the house. In fact, we’re using more high-energy-embodied concrete to put a pathway around the whole house. (And, so that we can conserve energy within the building via our slab [thermal], we’ll add insulation between the house slab and the concrete path. But more on this later.)

The majority of houses incorporating wellconstructed and well-detailed concrete slabs and footings experience no problems with slab edge dampness. Where problems do occur, there may be one or more of several causes. A thorough investigation is required to determine the most appropriate course of action to rectify the problem. Most slab edges are occasionally damp due to rain, garden watering or by contact with the ground. In some cases this dampness is able to permeate from the outside to the inside and affect the internal walls and/or finishes such as the floor coverings. Preventative measures are far more effective than facing the often difficult and costly repairs required to remedy problems caused by slab edge dampness and moisture ingress.

Not to mention the cost of a water damaged building (WDB) to human health!

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Indoor mould caused by dampness and high humidity can impact on medical conditions such as Asthma, Inhalant Allergies, chemical sensitivities, respiratory inflammation, Toxic Encephalopathy, Occupational Asthma, Irritant-associated Vocal Cord Dysfunction, Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome (RADS), Irritant-induced Asthma, Small Airways Disease or Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS).

The initial indication of a problem is usually persistent dampness of the exposed face of the concrete slab/footing, often resulting in associated efflorescence (a build up of a white coloured powdery substance) below the damp-proof course (DPC). There’s your red herring, right there: The DPC may have had lost it’s integrity or may never have been laid properly in the first place.

To fix the above problem, we needed to employ someone to dig out the gardens and pour tar against the slab edges, therefore, sealing them from slab moisture ingress. Due to my sensitivities to petrochemicals, this wasn’t an option. However, had I known before I moved in, it might have been. It was 2010 and my health had recovered from the mysterious chemical sensitivities; but by 2012, my health and level of tolerance for fragrance, petrochemicals and solvents was at ground zero.

To avoid slab moisture ingress:

  • Slope the surrounding soil around your building by 50mm before attempting to lay any paths or garden beds
  • If you suffer symptoms from mould exposure, keep garden beds away from the side of the house
  • When laying concrete around your house, make sure to insulate or better still, water proof the edge of the slab
  • Get professional Arborist before planting large trees to avoid tree roots blocking outlets to storm water drains
  • Avoid over watering adjacent to slab footings and edges
  • Have your plumber install unground pipes that drain water away from your home, which is what KLM Plumbing are doing for us

More

Toxipedia: Dangers in our Home, Mould and More

Build an Eco-Friendly, Allergy-Free House: D&C Fear Concreting

Build an Eco-Friendly, Allergy-Free House: KLM Plumbing

Build an Eco-Friendly, Allergy-Free House: Come Shopping with Us at Reece Plumbing

Build an Eco-Friendly, Allergy-Free House: We Wrapped Our House in Plastic

The Labyrinth: DuPont’s Worse Nightmare

Coming up

uPVC windows: Are They the Right Choice For You?

A Hardwood House Frame!

Kingspan Insulation: How we Wrapped our House

 

 

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
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