A LOOK AT DIAGNOSING POTENTIAL ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES
#1 History Documentation
(This is the first of a series)
Allergies, asthma, weakened immune systems and fatigue are common problems and may be related to the home or office environment. Many of us are not aware of how to discover the indoor environmental issues on our own. After years of home and office consultations dealing with medication profiles along with poor air quality and environmental hazards, our Breathe-Rite home inspections (audits) have revealed that there are many common themes.
The Breathe-Rite Environmental Inspection is designed to look at the issues surrounding these problem areas and assess their interaction with the entire building envelope. Through the use of ‘Modeling’ we use Infrared Photography, Laser Particle Counts, Household Gas Measurements, Borescope Photography, Blower Doors, Duct Blasters, Air Flow Manometers, and Lab Analysis to diagnosis your homes features.
ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE #1 – HISTORY DOCUMENTATION: It is extremely important for the building occupant to recall all the related dates and timelines of individual symptoms. Breathe-Rite uses a questionnaire prior to all home visits or office inspections to focus on these issues and to prompt the occupant to begin recalling important events.
Immediately before the audit, we use this questionnaire to ‘fill in the blanks’ with specific dates. By using key parts of the pre-inspection answers, we can focus on details that we need to look at more closely. No one will remember the entire sequence of all their issues, however, by answering preliminary questions the thought process begins to recall how certain circumstances became connected. Some examples of questions that can lead to quicker solutions are:
- When did the smells, ailments, sinus problems, fatigue or events first occur? This requires careful thought. Many times our lives get in the way of observing how we live and we fail to see unique daily issues that may affect our health.
- Detail all events that come to mind, and relate them to how your health issues began to worsen.
- Recount all the details that are associated with each reaction, Dr’s visit, hospitalization, new prescription or health setback. Allow time for recollection. (You will be impressed at what you draw out in the way of valuable information).
- What was going on inside the dwelling (renovation, painting, floor refinishing, carpet replacement, change of HVAC components, removal of drywall, water leaks, etc)?
- Weather related events, new foods, changes in the brands or formulations of foods that you consume repetitively.
- What was going on outside the dwelling (forest fires, water leaks, near-by earth moving or landscaping projects, new construction, factory installations, bad air quality days, new landscaping, etc.)?
- Did your overall health picture change (new medications, discontinuance of medications, new medical diagnosis, loss or gain of weight)?
- Be sure to include vitamin and mineral supplements at this point. We become used to replacing the right foods with additional nutritional supplements.
- Remember that supplements are chemicals and each one that you add to your daily intake increases the chances of interactions.
- The body can break down the nutrients in foods and pass on what cannot be absorbed. It cannot always make the same evaluations with concentrated intake of an herb or enzyme consumed 1-3 times daily.
- What are the results of any allergy/medical tests that your physician may have performed? Breathe-Rite pharmacists are capable of analyzing medical information discovered by your physician and relate it to what is happening in your personal environment. We comply with all HIPPA regulations.
- We are accustomed to consulting with your doctor for specific direction. Physicians are also comfortable with the role of the pharmacist and can fill-in detailed information if you choose.
- Did your transportation or office/work environment change (new auto, new or renovated office area, increase in smells associated with headaches, change of materials)?
- Was a pesticide, remediation, or HVAC service initiated in your workplace?
- Many times these types of changes are difficult to discover. You may need to ask.
- Are you using new chemicals, cleaning agents or household products with different ingredients?
- There have literally been thousands of changes to the chemical make-up of household cleaners, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.
- Additional ingredients may now be added under the term ‘inert’. Specific chemicals that potentiate the active ingredient and enhance their ability to be absorbed into the lungs and skin.
These are just a few examples of how subtle changes to our personal environment go unnoticed. All of these event types have the possibility of creating new health issues in today’s tightly sealed buildings. These accumulate and become additive as time goes on. Eventually, we reach a threshold or ‘tipping point’ and then a noticeable problem may appear.
Just as your physician depends upon a medical history to aid in diagnosing your illness, the Breathe-Rite model also depends heavily on (YOUR) input to diagnosis your indoor environmental health. It identifies areas that need special attention when the audit is being performed, and allows us to recommend any additional testing that may improve your IAQ.
Never underestimate the importance of putting together a physical history of your home, your office and your family.
For more information http://www.epa.gov/asthma/ahop.html