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New Ideas to Protect Your Home and Health

January 22, 2008 | 54,298 views


I decided to reverse the order here for a very important reason, in that I am formally announcing a new focus on this site which will be directed toward educating you about the dangers of the building that you live in and what you can do to correct it.

The 2008 Building Biology Conference: Building the Way Nature Intended

Join the international movement of individuals who are rebuilding the built environment into one that nurtures and restores human life.

Many of you may know that I started my medical practice just outside of Chicago in 1985. After 23 years in the same location, we will be moving to a new, state of the art  office building.

Since environmental health is a concern of mine the building will not only be LEED certified but it will likely have platinum certification, which is virtually never awarded.

In the process of seeking to create the healthiest office possible, my consultations led me to seriously consider Bau Biology (German for "Building Biology") as a tool to improve the health of the environment. While LEED is great, it tends to focus on the environment.  Whereas Bau Biology, like its name suggests, focuses more on human health. 

Germans are famous for their precision and attention to detail and they did not fail us here. They have developed an incredible accumulation of knowledge that I can assure you, only a VERY small fraction of those in the building industry are even remotely aware of. There is a group in North America who has translated and expanded the German research to implement these techniques in other countries. The Institute for Bau-Biologie & Ecology (IBE) is dedicated to educating folks on how to create healthy indoor environments.

This includes the LEED community. Fortunately, my involvement will likely catalyze a communication between these two important bodies so we can take building health in the United States to the next level. After all, if you spend so much of your time indoors, how can you possibly be healthy if you are living in a toxic environment?

I hope to have at least one article a week devoted to this CRUCIAL health topic, because if you don’t understand these principles, you could be living in a time bomb. So let me start by sharing this article by Wolfgang Maes, who is one of the the leading German building biologists:


How did it begin? How did the standard of Bau-Biologie develop?

More than 25 years ago, we developed a Bau-Biologie community to structure the miscellaneous aspects of Bau-Biologie evaluations. In the years following, based on our experiences in collaboration and on behalf of the Institute for Bau-Biologie, IBN, a standard was created. Scientists, experts, physicians and colleagues collaborated. The first Bau-Biologie guideline for sleeping areas was published in 1992. The latest version, the 7th publication, is due to be published in 2008.

Who uses it?

The Bau-Biologie standard is used in Europe, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand -- as a benchmark to professional and independent measurements in houses. Building biologists, associations, institutes, labor organizations, government ministers ... act on its basis. Concerned physicians, environmental doctors, consumers and interested citizens ... use it as guidance. Policy makers, authorities, industry and courts ... note it as an addition and also as provoking an alternative to the established science. The standard and guidelines are part of many educational seminars, numerous publications and books.

What makes it so special?

The Bau-Biologie standard with its three major sections and sub-sections covers the entire subject. It includes all man-made physical, chemical, climatic, microbiological, electronic smog, radioactivity, geological fault zones and sound risk factors. It includes poisons and the indoor climate of particles, fungi and allergens. The guidelines have references to the sensitive and especially important sleep and relaxation time, and associated long-term chronic loading of toxins and stress that we all face.

What is the focus, the philosophy?

In the first place, providing reasonable health. The focus of the standards is the holistic attention to all of the numerous possible sources, to be able to localize and estimate the biological risk, with the objective as unencumbered as possible. The goal is to create an environment as close to nature as possible. Surveys on a scientific basis -- with measuring instruments and/or laboratory analysis -- are conducted in sleep and living spaces, at the place of work or on plots of land.

The guidelines offer an optimum condition, especially in sleeping and long-term sensitive times, namely the nightly regeneration phase. Based on thousand-fold experience, we know mitigation of these risk factors is doable and attainable. Each risk reduction possible is worth doing, especially for persons in need of protection, such as children, the elderly, people with sensitivities, and chronic cancer patients. It‘s also worth doing for healthy persons, as there are no adverse side effects.

How did the guidelines emerge, based on what?

Initially, the guidelines were based on experience. We observed people‘s reactions when we eliminated or drastically reduced electronic smog, toxins or fungi, and the people quickly became healthier. That inspired us to pay attention and to experiment further. If a larger number of unambiguous and unmistakable case studies existed, we trusted ourselves to propose Bau-Biologie guidelines. Children are ideal examples not only because they are especially in need of protection, but also because they have little inclination to placebo effects, and are therefore good indicators.

The guidelines are adapted in arrangement with the standard commission and with physicians and colleagues, again and again according to new insights. We exchange views continually. Many guidelines have remained stable, whereas others are corrected. Sufficient Bau-Biologie experience, for example in asbestos, is missing, so we offer other meaningful recommendations and studies. In spite of all the guidelines, the benchmark for us is doable, and always with a goal toward nature.

Does Bau-Biologie require special protection?

It shouldn’t, but as long as the political, official, scientific and industrial benchmarks for biological estimation are based solely on thermal effects, as long as pesticides are permitted in childrens rooms, as long as there are no binding criteria for mold and bacteria loads, and as long as asbestos is dismantled and re-used, then “special” approaches are necessary.

As long as continual new inventions, for example, wireless technology, are released ... without research based on humanity, it is important that we pay attention and that there are the building biologists and its guidelines to protect the person. He who really wants “shelter” can laugh at the official benchmarks and limits. After 25 years of development, Bau-Biologie with its guidelines is an honest and rational aid to the precautionary protection of people.

Bau-Biologie and science?

Science, yes, if it serves the person, nature, and life. Science, no, if one-sided interests exist where industrial, political, and financial interests are the driving force ... and if economic growth becomes more important than public health. The standards are justified in the experiential scientific sense, but not in the lab research scientific sense. The lab research science focus is different -- often stopping healthy persons after only one short exposure and observing their reactions. Everyday life is not a laboratory -- it is not a short-term exposure, it does not occur when you are awake only, and it is not just for healthy adults. What we have and still propose: Minimize and pay attention to chronic loads and what happens in the all-day, life background of any person, at home, at work, and under all conditions.

Bau-Biologie is science because it creates knowledge -- applicable, useful knowledge -- and because it researches, evaluates, and discloses. Bau-Biologie technology is objective, transparent, reproducible, and works on a scientific basis. The basis creates knowledge for variation, and for improvement. We building biologists are free to report when science loses the person as the focus, if it takes unnecessary risks, or if it becomes the assistant of a never satisfied industry.

Bau-Biologie acts in order to limit damage, whenever there is evidence of its seriousness, before the conclusive scientific proof is finished (which often doesn‘t happen until it is too late). With asbestos, for instance, 100 years passed after it was identified as a cancer danger before it was finally banned. With radioactivity, PCBs, PCPs, DDT and other dangerous influences, too many people have suffered for too many decades.

Bau-Biologie is the necessary addition, a tool that is ready for research and implementation. Bau-Biologie surpasses the laboratory science because it looks at life. Bau-Biologie reduces risks; it is not a Band-aid on a wound, rather it offers pragmatic, responsible and interest-independent healing.

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