Radiant Heat Fights Allergies with Hydrotherm Hydronic Heating (Part I)

hydrotherm hydronic heating for build an eco-friendly, allergy-free house project

Hydrotherm hydronic heating installers arrive for the Build an Eco-Friendly, Allergy-free House project

The Build And Eco-Friendly, Allergy-Free House (BEAH) project had stage 1, the ‘fit out’, installation for hydronic heating: 2 floors, one cottage done a while back. Everything had been planned with the usual military precision and attention to detail: It was a busy two days! And to top it off we had Jacob Maggs, our masterfully-EMF aware electrician on the site working his magic, re-jigging wires, lowering the electromagnetic fields to-be around the bedroom (that’s another post in itself. I do not have EHS (Electromagnetic Sensitivity), however, I’ve included research on building to low EMF standards in my book, Freedom: an Eco-friendly, Allergy-free Home… While also taking precautions with the BEAH project. For now, go to EI Wellspring for the safest information on building low-EMF style.)

Yes, I sent all of our workers’ the doctor’s letter just like always when dealing with companies, businesses and tradespeople.

The Hydrotherm crew arrived like a bunch of scent-free superheroes: no fragrance; no sprays.

Hydrotherm hydronics

Hydrotherm had specified my medical condition’s needs in the actual quote so everyone on the job new about it. Along with AESSRA ‘How to be Fragrance-free’ brochures, I supplied spray cans of ‘QV Naked’ spray deodorant (with the choice of aluminium or not) or a roll on, one for each crew member. (Hot tip: for tradies who leave it there, put their initials on the lid) I like it when workers take it home with them, like a gift. It’s a lovely thought knowing you may have changed someones preferences from chemical irritants, like fragrance, to less-toxic products.

As an example, here’s what I got in writing from one of the managers via email:

“We are happy to comply with all of your needs regarding your respiratory system. As discussed, we are happy to use silicone provided by yourself. We would anticipate a maximum of 6 tubes needed but that would be dependent on the type of joists used.”

With this on our final quote:

Written on our quote, after explaining my 'allergies' to fragrance

Written on our quote, after explaining my ‘allergies’ to fragrance

We had 6 tubes of Selley’s 3 in 1 silicone (lasts up to 5 years) ready for on the day; however, we have been changing the silicone on any external areas to Sikaflex, then going over it with mortar, due to the need to have all external holes in the building watertight as possible. (The Selley’s tested safe for breathing, the Sikaflex, not. However, it’s used on the external part of the building so should be fine.)

The Hydrotherm guys were obsessionally organised, which I found pleasantly unusual in the tradie world…  And they travel out to wherever you are. And did I say they clean up after themselves?

Hydronic heating for allergies

Organisation, plus!

But First!

Hydronic Heating as a Source of Warmth for the Chemically-Sensitive Patient

My treating Allergist and Immunologist, the renowned Allergist and Immunologist, Dr Colin Little, in Mt. Waverly, Victoria, Australia, has a lovely, warm clinic with hydronic heating panels installed.

They have a fragrance free policy there so it’s actually a comfy place, where you can relax waiting for your appointment, especially when it’s cold outside, and still be able to breathe comfortably.

Fragrance free door sign. Dr Little: 324 Stephensons Rd Mount Waverley, VIC 3149

Fragrance Free Door Sign: Dr Little’s Rooms: 324 Stephensons Rd
Mount Waverley, VIC 3149

One of the information sheets he gave me when I tested positive to burnt gas, said: “Hydronic Heating, coil or panels”, are the safest heating option for those sensitive to chemicals or with respiratory illness!

Of course, being a renter, I’d struggled with heating for years. As we all often do.

All of the rentals I’ve stayed in over the last 10 years, I could use the air-conditioning but I struggled to find a heater that didn’t hurt to breathe around, failing with:

  • oil column heaters (the enamel or plastic dials); in an old one once, it was the oil itself that was a problem;
  • convection panel (burnt dust);
  • the Nobo convection heater (well famed in MCS circles) (perhaps I had the wrong model but something inside burnt fumes making me ill for years each time I tried it. No smell just chemicals burning off, it was like the layer that it comes with they recommend you burn off for 24 hours first);
  • And, the worst, I tried the old-school coil heaters that burn dust continually…

…burning dust was an awful problem for me, setting of the diagnosed Alodynia on the left side of my face, so painful (little did I know, inhaling ‘mustiness’  and having MaCRONS (sinus strep infection) was/is my main sinus problem!)

For years I struggled with the only two types of heating I could use: the split system (so long as it was newish with clean filters (no apple caichen (scented) technology (‘ambient scenting’ from Kensington or Fuji (Fuji’s come in a foil packet and are optional to install.) on low heat so as not to cause outgassing in the foil-covered rental; however, I’ve also found these machines to sometimes be mouldy; last, and what I’m left with at the moment: the small Arlec air heaters, replaced each year as they collect dust in the fans. It was a nightmare thinking back on it; and I don’t know why anyone with an illness related to chemical sensitivity, asthma or any respiratory disorder wouldn’t choose hydronic heating, given the opportunity.

“It’s not as expensive as you might think; and if you go with the right company, like Hydrotherm, you’ll get a great price.” ~ Michellina van Loder, CIRS patient

I’ve spent many winters in pain from various heaters outgassing noxious chemicals to which testing shows I’m sensitive to, causing my sinuses to feel like they’re screaming in pain; yet not wanting to turn the heating off due to ice-cold Melbourne nights, I’d put up with it. (I’m also sensitive to breathing cold air: my sinuses and that old pain in my head that gets set off from mould exposure. You know it’s freezing here, on the coast of Victoria, Australia, right?)

Testing

Medical ‘Allergy Sublingual’ type testing showed:

  • ‘burnt gas’, from gas heating and cooking;
  • ‘formaldehyde’ often found in new heaters, paints that are not powder-coated
  • formaldehyde found in PM2.5 particles in wood-smoke, sometimes from burning off or most likely, wood-fire heaters polluting the outside air making its way, rudely, inside.

What is Hydronic Heating, Exactly?

From Bosche:

Hydronic heating is a method of heating utilising heated water to distribute warmth throughout a building. The benefits of hydronic heating Hydronic heating offers superior comfort, operational efficiency, and silent operation. It is also known to minimise the negative effects to allergy and asthma sufferers caused by the circulation of airborne particles, such as pollen and dust, that occur with alternative heating technologies employing blown air.

Why we Chose Hydronic Heating?

So I can see why the good doctor gives his allergic and chemically sensitive patients information sheets on Hydronic heating seeing it is the safest type of heating system for people who are immune compromised, have CIRS, MCS, ME, CFS, Asthma or any respiratory illness where irritants can impede on existing health conditions and diseases:

  • because the panels (or under floor coils) don’t collect dust, burning it when switched on, often inflaming airways;
  • clean air;
  • no VOCs gives the hydronic system the five-star advantage over all other heating systems;
  • they don’t exacerbate chronic illness like burning gas, twin-system air-conditioners—that can, and often are, mould contaminated—and hydronic heating doesn’t dry out the air or the eyes;
  • They can’t go mouldy or collect cellulose to make mould;
  • The heat dispensed from the panels is an ambient, warm heat, emanating from powder-coated panels. It cannot pick up unwanted scents or fragrances from visitors, like heaters than have air intake and outtake vents and filters do;

Even EI Wellspring, a reputable US source often used with confidence by downunders says:

“A hydronic system is one where water carries the heat and coolness, instead of using air.  Hydronic heating is common in Canada, the northeast United States and Scandinavia.  Such a system can be designed to be completely free of noise, moving air and EMF, but they are costly.
 
A boiler (which can be a regular water heater in some cases) heats up the water, which is pumped around by a small circulation pump.  If desired, the boiler can be located in a shed outside the house, even away from the house.  The boiler can then use either electricity or gas (propane or natural gas).  If using gas, it is best to locate the shed down wind from the house.
 
The hot water coming into the house can either circulate through a slab floor (in-floor heat), through radiators, or go through a heat-exchanger mounted in a conventional forced-air system.  When retrofitting an existing house, upgrading an existing forced-air system may be the most economical choice.

US Information on MCS Friendly Hydronic Heating

“A special type of radiator can both be used to heat and cool a room.  Burnham Hydronics (1-888-432-8887) makes the Duo-Rad, which requires a fan to run continuously.  Edwards Engineering (1-800-526-5201, www.edwards-eng.com) makes the very sleek looking Valance system, which does not require any fan at all.  The author is not aware of any EI person who has actually used either of these two systems
If using radiators, make sure they have a baked-on powder coating.  Painted enamel and simple cast iron radiators are apparently not well tolerated…”

Read more on Heating and Cooling from EI Wellspring

Hydrotherm’s panels are powder-coated.

If the House is an Eco-House with Passive-heating and Passive-cooling, does it really need Hydronic Heating?

Yes, but you need to be active in using it each day, it still fits in well with a passively heated and cooled house because on the colder, no-sun days, it will remain on 22c; and on sunny winter days, it may need to go on 12c to keep the house toasty warm. Of course the front of the house, the north is warmer due to its design but the southern ends of the house can get cold, freezing at night. I know, I’ve had to sleep there a few nights… By having a heating system I can afford to run, I can heat the whole house therefore lowering the risk of mould growing due to cold air in the form of moisture vapour [Think fog, mist, humidity levels!)

Hydrotherm Part I: Radiant Heat Fights Allergies with Hydrotherm Hydronic Heating

Hydrotherm Part II: Why Hydrotherm Hydronic Heating is a Breath of Fresh Air

Hydrotherm Part III: Hydrotherm Hydronic heating for our Eco-friendly, Allergy Free House

Hydrotherm Contact Details

Hydrotherm: Hydronic Heating

Greenheat: Hydronic Heating

Hydrotherm Instagram

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.

Lisa Neville: Please Help Stop Wood-smoke Impacting on My Already Inflamed Airways

Dear, Lisa Neville, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water

Each winter, my health is impacted on by my neighbours’ wood-smoke from their wood heaters. Not only does the woodsmoke make me ill for days at a time but it also makes my life and that of my family’s difficult: we have to seal our windows with masking tape to keep the smoke out; we can’t run the exhausts fans in the bathroom unless someone outside the bathroom can tape up and seal cracks around the door due to the backdraft of woodsmoke that comes in; some nights, I have to sleep with a 3M filter mask over my face to protect my airways; we can’t leave our washing outside, nor can we go outside for long—most days, I can’t go outside at all—because the wood-smoke particles permeate into our hair and clothing, effecting my airways when we come in.
chimney-315953_640
It’s not the sharp acrid smell that is the problem; rather, it’s the chemicals in the wood-smoke.
Many of which are proven to be chemical irritants that harm people with asthma, immune disorders and lung issues. My doctor, Immunologist and Allergist, Dr Colin Little, has tested and found me to be chemically sensitive to the irritants in wood-smoke. It’s like an allergy, however, the mechanisms are different. My only defence against the response my immune system has to woodsmoke is to avoid it. I can’t. And this winter it is making me feel miserable and insignificant — on top of the wood-smoke impacting on my health!
I have moved house, once because of neighbours’ wood-smoke, and I’ve changed my whole lifestyle just to try and manage my condition. Woodsmoke is not the only chemical irritant I have to manage, or try to avoid, but it is the only one that makes its way into my home without consent. I cannot describe how painful it is to wake in the night with no tears, saliva or mucus, due to neighbour’s lighting up nearby, and realising that I forgot to seal around the windows, and knowing I will suffer in pain for the next few days because of it. My airways, sting and burn and it hurts to breathe when wood-smoke is in the air; and due to this inflammation of my airways, the headaches and sinus pain that follow, my life must be put on hold until I recover.
This year, I’ve been ill for most of winter already due to wood-smoke in the air.
We are trying to build a new home that is allergy-free for me, however, if someone builds next door, installing a new wood heater, I’ll have no clean air to breathe, once again. I can’t ask them not to burn wood, allowing PM2.5 particles into the air. I can’t complain to council because unless the neighbour is burning incorrectly then they are in their complete right to do so. My health will continue to suffer greatly if this happens; and this time, I won’t be able to up and move again.
I find it difficult to understand in this age of human evolution how people with health conditions are allowed to suffer under the barbaric practice of burning wood for heat.
There are children with asthma who can’t speak for themselves: Minister, you need to be their voice. Our voice. Please.
 
Please support stricter air pollution standards and save $18 billion in health costs by implementing 3 measures to solve wood heater pollution at the 15 July meeting, improving our health and saving many lives per year.
The vast majority of respondents to the government consultation wanted an annual PM2.5 limit of 6 ug/m3.  This standard is achievable, if the 3 wood heater pollution measures are implemented, and would save the lives of about 700 Australians every year.
Please, as our elected representative, make public health your priority.  Please support the annual PM2.5 standard of 6 ug/m3 and allow it to protect large and small communities by requiring PM2.5 to be measured in all communities with more than 5,000 inhabitants if there is evidence (e.g. from optical particle counters) that the standard is likely to be exceeded.
A 6 ug/m3 PM2.5 standard can be achieved if we fix the wood heater pollution problem.  Emissions limits for other sources of pollution (e.g. cars) are set by the government.  The same should apply to domestic wood heaters. The Committee that set current ‘standards’ had no health experts and was powerless to make any real improvements because the wood-heating industry is allowed to veto any proposed changes.

As might be expected from such a flawed process, the current wood heater test doesn’t measure real-life emissions  The average new wood heater (that meets the current flawed ‘standard’) emits more PM2.5 per year than 1,000 petrol cars and has estimated health costs of thousands of dollars per year.  This meaningless ‘standard’ should be withdrawn immediately and a task force set up to develop a replacement test that measures real-life emissions and to set an appropriate emissions limit that will safeguard public health.Despite being used in Sydney as the main form of heating by less than 5% of households, the NSW EPA estimates that domestic wood heaters are responsible for more than half of all Sydney’s PM2.5 emissions over the entire year. A consultancy report for the NSW EPA estimated that woodsmoke is an $8.1 health problems in NSW, but that 3 simple measures

1) not allowing new wood heaters to be installed (until a new health-based wood-heater standard has been developed)
2) phasing out wood heaters when houses are sold
3) licencing fees to fund education programs, assist residents whose health or lifestyle is affected by other people’s woodsmoke and provide funds to replace wood stoves with non-polluting alternatives
could not only reduce the $8 billion health costs in NSW ($20-$24 billion for the whole of Australia) by at least 75% but also allow the 6 ug/m3 PM2.5 standard (that would save about 700 lives per year) to be achieved.
Please therefore support a 6 ug/m3 PM2.5 standard and the 3 measures listed above that will together reduce health costs in Australia by almost $20 billion and save 700 lives per year.
 
To verify the above facts, please see woodsmoke.3sc.net/health
Thanks you for your efforts which will ensure a cleaner, healthier future for all Australians.
Regards
Michellina van Loder
Professional Writer, Author, Journalist, Blogger
and PW&E Student @ Victoria University
Author of Build an Allergy-free, Eco-Friendly House
Labyrinth eBook, Web and Literary Services
B:  The Labyrinth ~ and finding my way out
More
 
Airquality Australia

The Lung Foundation Australia: Woodsmoke Harms Your Lungs

Asthma Australia: Woodfire Heaters

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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