Environmental Assay Inc.

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A few definitions

*Updated irregularly as time permits*
Please forgive the occasional typo or syntax error,
they are there for those looking for them . . .

Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) =
(Indoor Air Quality) IAQ and
the presence of (Electromagnetic Fields) EMF

  1. What is Environmental Quality?
    Environmental Quality is the sum of all possible aspects of living spaces that produce what is generally perceived as comfort. Possible environmental / biological irritants that can spoil this setting generally fall within two categories, that is: Mass-based irritants (which primarily impact your lungs and other mucous membranes) or Energy-based irritants (which primarily impact your central nervous systems).

  2. How does one conduct an Environmental Assay?
    An Environmental Assay by definition implies an investigation of ALL factors that can influence individual perceptions of comfort. Generally, most irritants can be immediately identified visually during a quick walkthrough, with a few requiring the use of instruments. However, due to various constraints, most individuals ask to have specific items investigated, but not others.

  3. What factors limit the extent of an Environmental Assay?
    Price, Quality, and Timing. You control one factor, the other two depend on the limitations of that first choice.

  4. I am Electrically bu not Chemically sensitive. I read somewhere that Romex wire is OK, if you just twist it to reduce EMF.
    Have you ever seen blowing smoke (a.k.a. BS)? It is a national travesty that most of North America is wired with Romex, because that sets in motion an electrified birdcage, that is associated with a Leukemia peak in children (deduced by others far more eminent than I). For someone who is clueless to advise that Romex is OK is to rub salt on the wound. That individual, and the web site where you read that, should be put out to pasture, and told to look for a job, where they can really serve, rather than BS.

  5. I am Electrically but not Chemically sensitive, while a friend is the opposite. How come?
    Everyone with an impaired immune system (by whatever cause) is sensitive to both, in varying degrees. But, due to the slight diversity in our makeup, one will be more obvious than the other, so some feel their sensitivity is exclusively Electrical, or Chemical. Generally there are several categories of individuals that are most sensitive, and they are (without any specific order of importance):

    Fetuses, Infants, Women in general, Women transitioning through Menopause, the Injured, the Elderly.

    Most individual being fortunate enough to have passed through infancy, will at some time fit into one or more of the other categories. So becoming sensitive is not a matter of IF, but WHEN. You should also glean from the above that women are generally more sensitive (environmentally) than men. Again, I did not make that distinction. Just ask anyone in the medical profession.

  6. What is EMF?
    EMF is an all-encompassing term including electromagnetic elements with a frequency anywhere between zero and infinity. It includes Electric fields produced by Voltage, Magnetic fields produced by Currents, Harmonics produced by nonlinear use of currents, and Radio Frequency produced by variations in electric and magnetic fields faster than about 30 million cycles per second. Unfortunately, Magnetic fields are the easiest to measure, and EMF has been popularized as simply being Magnetic fields. Therefore the language that an EMF of 2 or more is bad, and being clueless about the other components.

    In perspective, Electric fields are most abundant, due to the prevalence of wiring simply covered in plastic, either within structural cavities, or plugged-in cordage. This also acts as a carrier for Harmonics (dirty electricity) content. Turn off / open breakers (or change wiring type, if feasible), and the electric field presence drops by 98%, as well as the cartage of harmonics. (Some character elsewhere on the web has pontificated that simply twisting structural cavity wiring will reduce EMFs. He hasn't a clue what EMFs are.) Change plain vanilla power cords to shielded, and those emissions are likewise eliminated from a point-of-use. Magnetic fields are the exception rather than the rule, in contrast to electric fields which are the rule rather than the exception. Whereas harmonics content of electric fields may be only as much as 3 to 5%, when magnetic fields are present, their harmonics content may be 20 to 50% of the field. So magnetic fields can be worse, when present. Improvements are only partially achievable in an already built structure, and fully when implemented during new construction. Like cars, that can be useful, (and fun to drive), you also need to consider that like use of cars can cause accidents, presence of EMF is strength, or duration, can cause disease. This conclusion is not mine, but by those far more eminent than I, who keep reaching the same conclusion with differing studies, spread out over years or decades. So harmonics (dirty electricity, if you must) being the normal product of electric usage (ever since fluorescent lighting from the early days of electricity ), and increasingly so in our modern age, is increasingly not healthful, when coupled with improper wiring. So going "green," as in solar, or energy efficient lighting and appliances, will open up a pandora's box for you. Welcome to reality.

  7. What is a milligauss?
    A Gauss is a measure of Magnetic field strength. A milligauss is 1/1000 of a gauss. For perspective, our planet produces about 450 milligauss (mg) anywhere on the surface, with the major variation being the inclination from the horizontal or vertical, and minor variations are time-based and occur due to the planet's rotation and interaction with the sun.

  8. What is Environmental Hypersensitivity?
    There are certain individuals that refer to themselves as Multiple Chemical Sensitive (MCS), some as Electrically Sensitive (ES), some as Electrically Ill (EI), some as suffering Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), etc. These are all variants of Environmental Hypersensitivity and are characterized by exaggerated reaction to normal irritants due to an Immature, Frail, or Damaged Immune System.

  9. My structure was built following Green and Sustainable concepts. Yet I still feel sick within it. How come?
    Green and Sustainable concepts may be well-intended, but as a friend once told me, "the path to hell is paved with good intentions." Green and Sustainable in and of themselves do not cover all bases (or mean Healthy). A notable omission is the Electromagnetic aspect of the environment. That's because someone in some outfit stated that: "uncontrolled EMFs do no harm". However, extensive and well-documented evidence shows the medical profession using Controlled EMFs to assist healing (implying a "biological interaction"), so the natural deduction would be that Un-controlled EMFs can be used to inflict pain / harm (or anything other than healing). So the individual who made the statement about uncontrolled EMFs doing no harm, and all who agree with him / her are idiots. No ifs, ands, or buts.

    To complicate issues, there are certain "consultants" that buy into "myths," such as needing a remote turn-off switch, even despite the fact that armored / shielded wiring is used. The latter precludes the need for the former. But they get put in, sometimes mis-wired, forcing me to get paid to fix the problem.

    Another example of well meaning intent relates to Magnesium Oxide. It has been promoted as the "miracle" replacement for gypsum wallboard. An individual contacted me after having this installed throughout a cabin, to relay that she could not tolerate its aromatics . . .

  10. My home has a central forced hot air and cooling system, and a good filter. Yet many times I feel stuffy. Why?
    During times of system inactivity, most typically spring and fall, when the temperature is mild, there is excessive CO2 buildup around you due to normal breathing which is to be expected. However, the HVAC unit is not designed to control stuffiness, it's designed to control temperature. You can remove the stuffiness by turning the fan on so that it stays on continuously, or have it outfitted with a timer that forces fan operation for say 10 minutes or so every 30. This will reduce the normal buildup of human-produced CO2.

  11. What is the relationship between Rest and Stress?
    Humans cycle between the two on a daily basis. Stress is a daily waking-state exercise, because life is generally an unending process of fixing one problem before going to another. Levels of stress vary between extremes as well as the tolerance among individuals to it. Stress needs to be followed by periods of rest, otherwise a burn-out occurs which may be characterized by nervous breakdown, physical shutdown (death), or other behavior that does not fit the norm. When rest periods are also prone to stress, as in trying to sleep under railroad tracks, or with an electric octopus underneath / behind / around the bed, rest is not productive and health begins to decline. Similar to adding straws to a camel's back, there will come a point where the back breaks, and the individual is then quick to point the finger at the most recent (and thought likely) irritant as the cause, when in fact the real culprit may have been extended exposure to a specific, or legion of, irritant(s).

  12. I am interested in finding a Safe apartment. Are there any guidelines on what to look for?
    While there is no "safe" living space, there are degrees of "safer." When walking into an apartment, condo, etc., regardless of how appealing it may be at first glance, consider that the space may have been vacant for many days (weeks, etc.), not been judiciously cleaned, and may have underlying issues that need to be identified. These brief guidelines are to try to rehabilitate any such living space in the immediate and short term.

    • Open the windows to let the fresh air in
    • An enclosed space becomes rich in aromatics and staleness because what life there is within (even normal and expected bacteria and mold) will use up Oxygen and foul the indoors, as far as humans are concerned, not to mention aromatics from material outgassing . . .
    • Empty a large glassful of water down every drain
    • Over several days' time the water traps will dry up and allow sewer gas indoors, depending on constantly changing relative pressure differences between indoors and the sewer system
    • Have a look under the refrigerator
    • Some refrigerators have a condensate pan at the bottom, accessible by removing the lower kick-panel - if this is fouled, every time the unit is operating some of the fouling may go airborne
    • Have a look under the stove
    • Check the vent exhaust filter if so equipped; BTW: if the stove is Gas-fired it will need a vent that exhausts outdoors, not your typical cheapie recirculation scheme
    • Have a look under the dishwasher, clothes washer and drier, and any supplied furniture
    • Evidence of lots of dirt is good reason for serious second thoughts
    • Have a look under the kitchen sink
    • Signs of uneven cabinet flooring are signs of recent or long past leaks, with potentially significant concentration of mold below the cabinet flooring, which could be an aromatic or particulate issue depending on constantly changing relative pressure differences between indoors and the space below the cabinet flooring
    • Assess the amount of fixed carpeting and porous fabrics
    • They are all candidates for significant particulate accumulation inclusive of animal / human dander, as well as mold spore and just ordinary fine dust - the mere act of walking on carpeting or sitting on a couch will liberate microscopic dust clouds that can stay airborne for hours and which can be airway irritants - Any such surfaces should be HEPA vacuum cleaned if you intend on occupying that space
    • Have a thorough look at ANY air moving device, such as hot water baseboards, air conditioner, etc.
    • Poor on no filtering can cause fouling (dirt accumulation) of machined surfaces or heat exchange surfaces, causing airborne carryover when these devices are in use; a poor Air Conditioning filter is an indicator of a fouled fan, internal to the unit, that may need cleaning - Use a bright flashlight
    • Evaluate whether carpeting in the hallway to the apartment is part of the picture, based on the preceding thoughts
    • Evaluate whether electric or human-applied deodorizers (if present) are used to mask some prominent feature
    • Most are artificial and may have neurological impact capability
    • Check for Magnetic field presence (with a Gaussmeter, of course)
    • Some near walls and floors is acceptable because you are immediately close to installed wiring. In the middle of the living room the lowest possible level is best, and above 4 - 6 mG long-term is not desirable; bear in mind that you are only checking 60 Hz, and on the EMF Frequency Spectrum that is a single blip on a vast universe
    • If there is a magnetic field in the middle of the living space, ascertain if the content is simply 60 Hz or rich in harmonics
    • You can do this with an AM radio, which will allow you to detect frequencies from 540,000 Hz to 1,640,000 Hz. If there is electrical "noise" content through most of the dial, you then know that there is electrical "noise" at many frequencies below and above that range. This is not good. If there are dimmer switches, turn them off to hear if the electrical noise goes away. If it does, replace the dimmers with plain switches. If it does not go away, go check another apartment
    • Check for AC Voltage on the telephone wire, using a very sensitive (non-contact) Voltage probe
    • If there is, the only healthy way to use the phone is as a speakerphone. Filtering exists to remove AC Voltage from the phone line ($150 - $250 each, depending on type), but you should not have to pay for a phone system's problem. Check the accessible phone wiring for electrical noise with that same AM radio. If there is, it will be an irritant during use, and will be due to the Switching Power Supply within the modem used to separate that from the other bundled service, via Cable or the phone company's optical fiber, FIOS
    • Check for Radio Frequency intensity using the same Voltage probe
    • Turning it on, walk around and approach the windows or metallic devices. It should remain quiet. If it beeps on approach to windows, you will probably want to consider window laminates to reduce RF ingress. If it beeps on approach to something like a stove or refrigerator, check the cord for a broken third prong, or have the wiring corrected.

  13. I need to stay in a hotel / motel for a few days to: 1) attend a clinic, or 2) have some work done at my home. Do you have guidelines for this also?
    Tie more of my hands, and there will be less I can do for you . . . Since in a hotel / motel you have less power of influence over your living space, compared to the above, and compared to the more complete influence over your home, there are still a few basic guidelines you can follow to make your life a little more pleasant.
    • By all means ask to see the place you are going to be staying in
      While there, have a look at the heater / air conditioner filter. That's right, it's got one, and it may be long fouled since its last cleaning. The moment it's turned on, a lot of aromatics and particulates may vent into the living space
    • Ensure you get a place that has windows you can open
      Even a city environment with its aromatics may be better than a fully enclosed space with various plastics and deodorizers
    • Ensure you can put a towel down by the door seal
      to close off the air passage between your living space and the hallway
    • Bring your towels, linen, and soap
      Controlling your fabrics' and your exposure to fragrances can go a long way to reduce your exposure to smelly fabrics from the establishment, however "nice" they're supposed to be.