6 Home Hazards to Look For Before You Relocate

by | Aug 8, 2018

When we bought our home ten years ago the light had me hooked. High ceilings, lots of windows and doors, and a living area beaming with light, sun and warmth. In a country bursting with sun, most of our homes are built to avoid it; it makes the winters unexpectedly cold.  When moving to a new home, there’s usually a checklist of aesthetic or convenience must-haves we consider. Often, we don’t consider the lesser known yet common home hazards that can affect our health and wellbeing, like those I’m about to share with you.

Here are some tips on home hazards to look for inside your new place, before making the big decision to relocate. Whether you are renting or buying, take these into account, especially if you suffer from allergies or health problems or if you just want to optimise your wellbeing.

 

6 Home Hazards to Check Before you Rent or Buy

solar panels hazard in the home

1. Solar Panels 

Solar panels are the darling of the environmental movement. Great for the environment, yes, but not so great for your health. Pretty much all solar panels, or to be more exact their operational side-kick the inverter, generate a type of Electromagnetic Field (EMF) called Dirty Electricity. This is pollution on your home electrical wiring that isn’t supposed to be there. Dirty Electricity is created when the inverter converts direct current from the sun to alternating current in our homes. These spikes of high-frequency EMF piggy-back on your home wiring and infiltrate the entire house. As I’ve explained in a previous blog, Dirty Electricity is not good for you.

If you know you are sensitive to EMF, avoid homes with solar panels like the plague. On the other hand, if you don’t think you are sensitive, be warned, this may be enough to push you over that threshold. I’ve heard many stories of people becoming very sick after moving into a home with solar panels. If you have your mind really set on this home, then look at replacing your inverter with one that produces relatively low levels of Dirty Electricity – you need to ask for an inverter with low ‘Total Harmonic Distortion’. If they haven’t a clue what you are talking about keeping ringing around ’til you find someone who does. The other option is to invest in some, and probably many, Dirty Electricity filters to reduce it to acceptable levels. It’s not ideal but it’s better than nothing.

2. Mould 

I have a thing about mould. Even the sight of it on a bit of bread makes my stomach churn. That aside, one in three homes have mould. One in four of us can’t tolerate it at all,  genetically-susceptible, making us really sick when we are exposed to it. We develop an illness called Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), which masquerades as chronic fatigue, ADHD, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression and so on. If like me you can smell dampness and mould the second you walk into a building, I would turn on your heel and walk straight back out. Also, keep in mind that in the worst cases of mould you cannot see or smell it. Mould is a home hazard that can lurk in your subfloors, the attic or heating ducts. If you know you get sick from mould, you absolutely have to your prospective home thoroughly tested before you move in.

If you think you can escape the mould epidemic by moving into a newly built home, think again. About 40% of new homes have condensation issues. We are building super-duper energy-efficient homes, so efficient they cannot breathe unless we risk opening a door or window for some fresh air.

Apart from mould testing what’s the best way to find out if your home has a history of water damage? Ask a neighbour. If you live on Ramsay Street like I do, your potential neighbour will be only to happy to give you the low-down.

3. Multi-storey Buildings

The higher up you live, the more you increase your chances of being unhealthy. By sheer height, you are moving closer to power lines and mobile phone towers. Even in a second storey building, you begin to lose any protection afforded to you by other low-level buildings. Bricks and mortar shield you from the penetrating effects of EMF to a certain degree.

Of course, in an apartment block, you will also be bombarded by everyone else’s man-made EMF. Turn on your phone for a signal and you will be surrounded by dozens of signals from routers and phones. There’s not much you can do about this unless you want to spend money painting and decorating your apartment with EMF shielding material. Another thing to look out for is an apartment located close to elevators, switchboards or transformers, and especially the bedrooms. Don’t just look for what is outside your apartment door but what is below you and above you. The EMF headache they can give you will not be worth it.

4. Smart Meters

Honestly, I think most people move into homes without even realising they contain these digital devices that emit high-frequency EMF non-stop. The implications of high-frequency radiation on your health have been discussed previously in this blog.Victoria led the charge in 2009, replacing manually-read analogue meters with pulsed radiation smart meters. Thankfully for our health, the full national rollout has been plagued with problems. Western Australia has been spared for the most part with about 11,000 smart meters currently being trialled in Darlington, Midland and Forrestfield, as well as some rural areas. Put simply, you need to avoid homes that have these meters, or if your heart is really set on it, find out if you can have it replaced with a traditional analogue meter before you make that move.

5. Meter Boxes 

Unlike its digital upgrade the smart meter, the bog standard meter box doesn’t emit high-frequency EMF but it does emit what is arguably a more damaging one: an AC magnetic field. As explained in previous blogs the impacts on your health from living and sleeping in these high fields can be very serious. So, when you find a home to relocate to check where the meter box is located. A garage wall is perfect. What’s not so perfect is on the outside of your bedroom wall, especially if it means you will be putting your head up against that very same wall to sleep. If this is your only option and you can’t afford to get EMF levels checked in the home before you move in, you need to move on. Your health really can’t afford to risk sleeping in these high AC magnetic fields.

6. Lights

So here is another conundrum. We have developed all sorts of energy efficient lights (LEDs, halogens, CFLs)  in an effort to save the environment. In doing so, we have forgotten that we didn’t evolve under light of this nature.  The good ole’ incandescent light bulb, shunned for its inefficiency, is in fact so much better for our eyes and overall health because it more closely recreates the light we see in nature.

To make energy efficient light bulbs, they chuck out the red warming part of the light spectrum and created a monster that gives us pretty much nothing but cortisol spiking blue (‘I’m wide awake’ signals to the brain) and a continual flickering effect (on-off), so lightning fast that we can’t even see it. However, our brain acknowledges it all. At best it keeps you awake or gives you headaches. At worst, it’s creating an epidemic of eye diseases such as Macular Degeneration and every imaginable disease connected to our hormonal system.

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The Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded this year for ground-breaking research which explains how a mismatch between our internal biological clock and light affects our wellbeing. You might not walk away from a home with LED lights but you need to be prepared to make lifestyle changes to counter the effect, or change your lighting system once you move in.

As I said in my previous blog about finding a healthy eco home, location is hugely important but when you walk in that door use all of your senses to sniff out a truly healthy home without these common home hazards.  Your home isn’t just for Christmas, it’s often for life.

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6 Home Hazards You Need to Check 

If you need help finding your next home, you’re in luck! I’m running a special offering 10% off the usual cost of a Moving Home Assessment. You can contact me to request your assessment, or for a free 20-minute eco consult here.

Hi, I’m Una. Eco-Lifestyle Coach & Scientist

Una Phelan environmental scientist and eco-lifestyle coach

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