Cartier Masthead Final Weeks

Sick Building Syndrome: Is your house healthy?

Beatrice Smith

I recently moved into a house that was built in 1949.

My housemates and I were charmed by the leafy Inner North location, original fireplace and established garden.

We were less charmed by was the discovery of an asbestos block shutting off our chimney permanently (non-dangerous, thankfully) and the 3cm of mould that grew on the back of my drawers in as many months from the rising damp. We’ve also all been in poorer health than normal.

“We know about asbestos,” says Danny Caputo, Project Manager for Natura Homes, “but there are a lot of other ways your house can be unhealthy.”

“For years I was a builder and project manager and didn’t focus on any of the health aspects of building [until] I came across building biologist Nicole Bijlsma. Nicole wrote a best selling book called Healthy Home, Healthy Family about the [partnership] between buildings and health, which opened my mind up as to the hidden hazards of homes.”

I thought my rising damp situation was bad. Turns out there are far more serious ways your house can be harming your environment and wellbeing.

“Nicole lived in a house where, over a seven year period, she experienced ten miscarriages,” says Danny.

Doctors couldn’t find a cause for her illness, or why she wasn’t able to conceive. It wasn’t until Nicole went to the US that she was able to understand.

“Her occupation at the time was a Naturopath so she started looking into her home and realised her problems were in her home – sick building syndrome, which harms the health of a family.”

“Nicole realised that she was sleeping behind a meter box. That meter box was creating an electric magnetic field. Meter boxes should be two meters away from where someone sleeps – this one was behind her headboard.”

“A lot of geopathic stress was also coming under her bed. Geopathic stress is more of an ‘earth disease’, it’s an energy that comes from the earth such as water coursing. The combination of electromagnetic energy from the meter box and the geopathic stress led to immune disease for Nicole.”

“In addition to receiving treatment for her immune disease, she moved her bedroom to the other side of the house and carried twins straight away, “says Danny.

Not all meter boxes cause immune disease, just like not all houses have rising damp, however the correlation between sick house syndrome and resident’s health is something Danny and Natura Homes tackle every day.

“The more I read and studied into it the more I realised the importance of living in a healthy home,” explains Danny.

“A lot of building companies don’t provide a ‘healthy homes’ service. Lucas [Sena, Danny’s business partner in Natura Homes] had been a renewable energy guru for many years so that’s how we developed Natura Homes.”

“It’s about educating the public because a lot of people aren’t aware. They don’t realise their home is creating their headaches, their lethargy.”

Natura Homes offer ‘healthy home’ consultations as part of their building processes so you’ll always have the option to optimise the health of your house and decrease the risks of allergies, asthma, sinusitis, eczemas and hay fever.

Their eight step customer process guides clients through the spectrum of options, discussing and assessing the optimal health of your home’s environment at every point in the planning and construction, working in harmony with your chosen architect.

You can even bring your chosen building plan to them for a consultation as to the health of your future home.

With homes like my share house being phased out by innovative builders like Danny and Lucas, hopefully tenants and families will be able to sleep easier in the future.

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Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Online Editor involves eating, drinking and interviewing people - sometimes simultaneously. The master of HerCanberra’s publishing schedule, she’s usually found hunched over a huge calendar muttering to herself about content balance. Otherwise, you’ll find her at the movies or ordering a cheese board. More about the Author