Well here I am trying! Trying used to be something I avoided, as I feared failure so much. I was fortunate however that a life event these last few years prompted a great deal of personal growth and now I'm a huge advocate of 'giving it a go!'.
Nearly four years ago my husband, my son and I moved house. Our daughter arrived just four weeks later (in the bathroom). A journey began, one that nearly broke us completely in pieces but gave us many lessons to rebuild upon. Along the journey, knowledge was gained and we've come out the other side appreciative of the experience.
I look back at the 3 years we spent in that house as the journey that had to happen. I wouldn't be where I am today without it. I wouldn't know of Building Biology, or the benefits of magnesium and I probably wouldn't have a shelf of stainless steel lunch boxes and drink bottles in my garage.
So what happened on this journey?
It was a farm we moved to. The home was 50 years old with its original carpet and surrounded by a quite barren garden with nowhere for children to play. We decided to have the carpet and curtains steam cleaned. I asked that fragranced products not be used - not realising then that the low fragranced products can have just as many nasty chemicals.
In addition to chemicals I believe that the moisture from the steam cleaning activated dormant bacteria just looking for its opportunity to regenerate in that carpet - 50 years of human dander could feed many organisms! In hindsight, removing the carpet altogether before we moved in would have been a great choice!
After a few weeks of living in the house we became frustrated with the poor functioning landline and poor mobile phone reception so we ordered a smart antenna to boost the mobile phone signal. Oh, how little we knew then about electromagnetic fields and its ill effects on a compromised immune system.
So there I was heavily pregnant then giving birth, breastfeeding a toddler and trying to settle in after a house move. Pregnancy and moving had worn me down and my near 3yr old son was so tired, had always been constipated and was now adjusting to the change of home. We were not in a good position health wise to cope with what hit us next.......MOULD!
It was visibly growing in the door frame of the ensuite bathroom. The shower water had been leaking into the wall behind the shower recess framework and then making its way down through the floor under the house. On later investigation the water had been leaking through for a very long time!
So after taking a hit from the carpet cleaning chemicals which would dissipate into the air over many many months, being run down by stress from moving, hindered by a signal booster and for me breastfeeding two children and having just given birth, we were in no condition to battle mould inhalation.
I hadn't updated the filter in the vacuum cleaner either so every time I vacuumed I would have spread more mould spores throughout the house. We also lived on a farm so it was dusty, very dusty! Every opening of a window would bring in more dust for the mould to live on and in the condition I was in the cleaning routine was really poor. Just getting through the day was an achievement. My son had started profuse wetting after moving and the daily washing of bed clothes and car seat covers was exhausting. As we got more unwell (and at this stage we didn't realise we were on a downward spiral), the cleaning routine slipped further and further and we got even more unwell.
What a way to learn! The hard way! I used to clean houses for a living and had also been an office cleaner but I never understood mould. I thought you just sprayed it with bleach and it went away. Well my knowledge has sure changed and one day when my children are older I'll study the subject to further my knowledge more.
So what DO I know about mould? Here's a few notes on what I learnt during my experience and from my building biologist and from talking with mould affected people in online support groups:
- Bleach is not helpful! It can feed mould and the bleach chemical inhibits your body's ability to cope with any other toxins (google 'sulfation pathway AND chlorine').
- You don't just kill mould! It needs to be removed! Dead mould can be even more dangerous than fresh mould.
- The spores are small and they love dust! Battling the dust helps battle the mould - but you still need to remove the mould.
- Mould makes people unwell!
- Mould illness doesn't always look like a wheeze or a chest infection. We had no respiratory issues. We did however develop food intolerances, behaviour problems, anxiety, depression, gastrointestinal problems, extreme night and day wetting, skin conditions and sleep issues.
- Recovery takes time.
So are you now wondering about your own bathroom or had an increase in health conditions since a relocation. Can you see some mould and not sure what to do about it?
I sought help on it! I had borrowed and read the first edition of Healthy Home, Healthy Family by Nicole Biljsma and knew that there were some probable causes to our health downslide. There was lots that I was exploring and we had been working with some health practitioners on diet changes and supplements. We had been exploring causes so I was searching for solutions not just diagnosis. I had been spending much of my time preparing wholefoods and the remaining time I was in the bathroom helping children with irritable bowels and awake many nights comforting screaming children who awoke in pain. I was riddled with parental guilt and was past the point of functioning well. I couldn't address all the issues by myself.
I made an appointment with a building biologist called Bronwyn. Her audit skills and ability to relate to where I was at (she had been in a similar position years before) was so valuable. She audited the house with all her gadgets and her knowledge and provided us with a report full of guidance and recommendations. We stopped using the bathroom straight away and moved the children to a further away bedroom. This step alone helped us greatly to start to move forward with our health. My cleaning routine improved, less dust meaning less food for mould spores. We invested in an air purifier and installed a whole of house water filter. The signal booster had been turned off months before and we explored how to turn off the wifi at night while we slept.
There was quite a bit to take in and in all honesty it took me months to take some of it in. Change is like that. Its often useful to make the biggest changes first and then chip away at the others - we don't learn all we need to know in one day.
Building Biology is the study of how our built environment impacts on our health. Its a big subject! Not one that any of us can take in quickly but we can chip away at it and try our best to lower the impact. For more information on building biology: https://www.buildingbiology.com.au/
We can also seek advice from someone who has done the study. For building biologists click here: https://www.aces.edu.au/links/find-a-consultant/building-biology
Interested in doing some of your own reading first? Borrow Healthy Home Healthy Family from your library or buy your own copy here: https://trying-for-our-health.myshopify.com/collections/building-biology/products/healthy-homes-healthy-families-book
I'm trying for our health, and encouraging you to try too.