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Shelter: A Quest for Non-Toxic Housing

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the pup-tent dept.

News 507

Crocuta writes "Many of the geeks on /. voluntarily confine themselves to their homes for vast stretches of time, but what happens when your home becomes your prison? Eric Hunting suffers from Environmental Illness which perpetually confines him to his home, which even as carefully furnished as it is, is still slowly killing him. His website, Shelter, is both a plea for help and a guide documenting one man's quest for non-toxic housing."

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Third time's the charm, eh? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502507)

Thank you I'm here all night!

Chris DeGarmo is back! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502549)


Seattle, WA - Founding guitarist, Chris DeGarmo has rejoined his former band mates at an undisclosed studio in the Seattle area. While it cannot be confirmed at this time whether Chris has officially rejoined the band, the group is writing as a complete unit for the first time in 7 years. A representative for DeGarmo confirmed the original lineup is "creating the next Queensrÿche studio release". Queensrÿche have amassed numerous gold and platinum awards and were nominated for a Grammy for their Top Ten Single "Silent Lucidity" in 1991.

Queensrÿche's upcoming full length disc is slated for an early Summer release. It follows their Sanctuary Records debut, LIVE EVOLUTION, which was released in 2001. The LIVE EVOLUTION DVD debuted at # 11 on Billboard's top music video sales chart.

Update: March 6th, 2003

Good news for you European folks. Chris DeGarmo has been confirmed for the European leg of the summer tour! More to come...

To celebrate this wonderful news, we now present you a hax0r song from the masters themselves...

NM 156
Music by: Michael Wilton and Chris DeGarmo
Lyrics by: Geoff Tate

Uniform printout reads end of line
Protect code intact leaves little time
Erratic surveys, free thinking not allowed
My hands shake, my push buttons silence
The outside crowd
One world government has outlawed war among nations
Now social control requires population termination
Have we come too far
To turn around
Does emotion hold the key
Is logic just a synonym for
This savagery, disguised in
Forgotten lost memory
Microchip logic
have we no more thought
"Is this wrong" I enter
Answers sought
Punch, punch, punch, transfer this data
Into code. Wide eyes watch my
Number 156 is shown
Created from past life to perform
Illicit function, I fail this conscious
Madness I man/machine imperfection
Have we come too far
To turn around
Does emotion hold the key
Is logic just a synonym for
This savagery, disguised in
Forgotten lost memory
End of line

Eric Hunting is a pussy. (-1, Flamebait)

Real World Stuff (561780) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502523)

It is punks like him that dilluter the gene pool. Can't compete, then is called natural selection.

michael blows goats.

too late (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502524)

damn it i lost the first post... 2nd's anyone?

yummy (1, Funny)

Botchka (589180) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502533)

Hell to think that I was happy my crayons and paste were non toxic........oh crap! is playdoh?

Just transfer your brain into a computer (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502534)

Like I did, and don't worry about. Living virtually is more than virtually living.

Re:Just transfer your brain into a computer (1)

chef_raekwon (411401) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502601)

ike I did, and don't worry about. Living virtually is more than virtually living.

better to have lived virtually, than to not have lived at all....

Arconsanti is the answer (2, Informative) (562495) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502536)

Arcosanti [] is housing project designed and developed by Paolo Soleric

Yea sure (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502541)

Sometimes this stuff goes a little too far..... Like it did this time.

Erm... (4, Insightful)

pubjames (468013) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502563)

Erm, wood anyone? Bricks and mortar? Glass?

Having looked at the site, I can't help thinking that there might be a psychological element to "Environmental illness".

Re:Erm... (5, Interesting)

Maeryk (87865) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502633)

Erm, wood anyone? Bricks and mortar? Glass?

What wood? Plywood (flooring substrate) and press board are all made with really nasty glues.. that give off formaldehyde, among other things, for years and years. Bricks are made of god knows what in some cases, bonding and strengthening agents are used in the formula, and these too can give off gasses or dusts that are toxic to people with allergies. Mortar has really nasty things in it.. which again people can be allergic too, and to seal it you need to use paint.. which also can cause reactions in people who cant deal with certain fumes.

The fact that the guy is leaning towards adobe makes me think he is allergic to something that is pretty commonly used as a "safe" bonding or strenghtening agent.


Re:Erm... (5, Funny)

pubjames (468013) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502705)

What wood? Plywood (flooring substrate) and press board are all made with really nasty glues.

Well don't use fricking plywood or press board then!

Bricks are made of god knows what in some cases

Bricks are made of clay, baked at very high temperatues. There really isn't much more to it than that.

Mortar has really nasty things in it

Really, like, erm, lime, silica and sand?

Where do you buy your building supplies, for flips sake, Dr. Evil?

Re:Erm... (4, Insightful)

Christopher Bibbs (14) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502782)

Mortar has really nasty things in it

Really, like, erm, lime, silica and sand?

Where do you buy your building supplies, for flips sake, Dr. Evil?

I don't know where you get your building supplies, but the stuff my contractor showed up with had a long list of US patent numbers for additives that improved the strength, reduced the set time, and cut down on the dust. Anything else those chemicals might do is beyond me, but I can tell you there is more in there than lime, silica, and sand.

Re:Erm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502888)

Where do you buy your building supplies, for flips sake, Dr. Evil?

That's why his house costs two ... MILLION ... dollars!

in the olden days (1)

greenalbatros (215035) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502719)

we would go out into tut forest and hack our huts out of the very trees themselves. and be thankful for it at the end of the day. aye, people today dont know how lucky they are

Re:Erm... (4, Informative)

Zathrus (232140) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502756)

Modern wood isn't very chemically "safe" -- various treatments involve chemicals you wouldn't otherwise like to be exposed to. One of the primary agents used in pressure treated wood is aresenic -- and there's some evidence that it does leak out into the surroundings (although still at a non-harmful level). Engineered wood (plywood, pressed wood, OSB, etc) often contains formaldehyde, along with other chemicals used in the bonding process (again - low levels - less than 1% of the mass is the bonding agent).

Modern wood floors are coated with polyurethane and aluminum oxide. I've done more furniture finishing than I care to think about and poly isn't the nicest thing on earth.

There are various chemicals used in the tinting of bricks and mortar, which I can imagine would be problematic. Modern concrete is also nasty - there's a reason they warn you not to handle with bare hands, since you can get chemical burns in short order.

Glass would seem to be relatively inert, but who knows.

Paints and wallpaper all have fun and interesting chemical compounds.

There probably are some psychosomatic symptoms in this illness, as there are in many, but I doubt that covers all of it. There's a high likelyhood that he actually does have severe negative reactions to a vast amount of chemicals -- although why this is is an interesting question. Genetic defect? Too many antibiotic sprays and cleaners as a kid (yes -- overuse of these is bad and reduces the overall effectiveness of your immune system)? Exposure to some high doses of chemicals that caused a trigger effect?

And while he claims the need for EI-friendly housing is "extreme", it's extreme only in a very, very, very small community. I won't question his need for it, but I do question the number of people in need. And the fact is, it's going to be expensive. Hideously so. Removal of modern building methods and resources means a lot of human intensive labor along with some very specialized resource requirements. An adobe home for $125/sq ft may be one of the cheaper alternatives.

Re:Erm... (1)

NitroPye (594566) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502843)

I dont know about the bricks and mortar but like previously stated wood is commonly treated and in the case of plywood it has glues and such. Glass ususally is not just the things your told in chemistry class anymore. They add other chemicals to make it stronger or lighter ...

Re:Erm... (1)

notfancy (113542) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502865)

Go see Safe [] , by Todd Haynes. Forget about interpretations and allegories, and just try to empathize with Julianne Moore (a terrific performance, BTW).

Non-Toxic Apartments. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502567)

I remember seeing a story several years ago
about an entire apartment complex that was
built specifically for people that suffered
from this "illness". Much desing and research
went into making the complex non-toxic. Only
problem was that when these people moved in
the complained that they felt worse than when
they lived in their previous (toxic?)

Re:Non-Toxic Apartments. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502770)

These people need therapy rather than a toxic-free environment. I'm not surprised they had adverse reactions in the non-toxic environment since in 99% of the cases (from what I've read) this "illness" is in their head.

house arrest (0)

greenalbatros (215035) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502573)

when your home becomes your prison you have done a very bad thing. however, the thing you did was so bad and high profile (ie genocidal chilean dictator, high ranking mafia boss etc), that you dont have to prison like a normal criminal. you get stay at home and watch kilroy all day. a punishment worse than death

Um.. Yeah (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502576)

Eric Hunting suffers from Environmental Illness

Some of his problems are probably real, but I'm guessing he'd get a whole lot better if he was treated for his mental illness as well.

Bullshit (4, Flamebait)

sam_handelman (519767) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502583)

The article poses the question: What Is Environmental Illness? It then goes off about Northern Exposure, which was a very funny television show, but is not a well established authority on immunological disorders.

It's a psychosomatic condition. [] Get a subscription for paxil and go the fuck outside.

Re:Bullshit (3, Insightful)

srboneidle (648298) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502666)

The bit I like best from this site ( is this:

MCS has been rejected as an organic disease by the American Medical Association, the American Medical Council on Scientific Affairs, the American College of Physicians, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and (my favourite) the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

It really just sounds like a nice new way of blaming someone (or something in this case) else for agoraphobia.

Re:Bullshit (-1)

Roto-Rooter Man (520267) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502762)

Why I am not surprised that Slashdot readers sympathize with a paranoid loser who walls himself up within his own house?

For those of you.... (4, Informative)

pfankus (535004) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502585)

...too lazy to dig deep enough, here's a description of the illness from the site:

What Is Environmental Illness?

In 1990 the CBS television series Northern Exposure introduced America to a little known community of disabled people through the character of Mike Monroe, a lawyer afflicted by an illness known as MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) who sought refuge in a peculiar geodesic dome home on the outskirts of the eclectic Alaskan community featured in the series. Mike was 'allergic to the 20th Century' and suffered a variety of symptoms in response to the most minor exposures to chemicals. Though writers of this series took much liberty with the facts of this ailment, the essential social condition of people with this illness was well portrayed, in particular the alienation and social anxiety associated with having an illness that no one really comprehended, least of all those in the medical community who would normally be relied on for understanding and compassion.

It is unclear precisely when MCS first emerged because misdiagnosis and politically motivated denial have consistently accompanied it to the present day. But over the 1980s physicians throughout the industrialized nations of the world began reporting a steadily growing number of cases of people developing a host of chronic symptoms, sometimes vague, sometimes plain, and sometimes dramatically life-threatening, which seemed to have no obvious pathology other than an association with the presence of common household industrial products or pollution. Symptoms ranged from things one might normally associate with conventional flu or allergy -such as asthmatic, skin, and gastrointestinal reactions- to neurological effects both subtle and dramatic -such as cognitive difficulty, numbness, trembling, twitching and spasms, and partial to total paralysis. Some patients claimed sensitivity to things well beyond the conventional clinical sphere, such as electromagnetic fields produced by appliances and electrical wiring. And there were few symptoms any patients had consistently in common other than a general progressive malaise dubbed 'chronic fatigue' and a vague chronic muscle or joint pain labeled Fibromyalgia. Many could trace the onset of their illness to a trigger exposure to some specific chemical product which resulted in a sudden flu-like illness and rapid break-down, though therafter their reactions would come in response to exposures to a vast assortment of things, including foods and sometimes natural contaminants like pollen, fungal spores, dusts, and natural fragrances.

Most MCS suffers tended to succumb to the condition in mid adult-hood and are often female with middle-class backgrounds. In the US there is a preponderance of them from northern and eastern urban/suburban regions, suggesting an association with general environmental pollution levels. Male cases were rarer and more often associated with specific industrial chemical contamination or industy-related pre-cursor illnesses such as the Systemic Candidiasis which is common among brewery workers. (GWS suffers, as noted below, are veterans and mostly male, their trigger exposure related to whatever they were subjected to in the Gulf War) Children were the rarest group but also a rapidly growing one, due perhaps to an increasingly sedentary and sequestered lifestyle that keeps children exposed to more indoor air pollution coupled to a steadily decreasing quality of diet for children in industrialized countries.

These cases proved immediately politically controversial because of the implication that they could be related to ubiquitous consumer products. These 'human canaries', as some physicians had dubbed them, were a potential threat to corporate interests and the government agencies charged with establishing safety and health standards. Thus there was a tendency by the medical establishment to at first dismiss the growing number of reports and then to promote a psychosomatic explanation that effectively blamed the patient -or the influence of their physicians suggestions- for his illness -a neat solution to the issue of potential liability. This was supported by the preponderance of women among MCS patients, which suited the misogynist attitudes of a medical establishment that still tended to regard women as prone to 'hysteria.' However, the steadily accumulating body of facts eventually belied this notion, as far as the vast majority of cases were concerned, but despite being generally discredited this psychosomatic 'excuse' has persisted, particularly among government bureaucrats and the contract medical mouthpieces of major corporations. But then, it's not all that hard to find physicians in the US today who still insist that even conventional allergies are all psychosomatic.

Faced with skepticism and ridicule by the establishment, many general practitioners attempting to understand and treat MCS sought support through coalition and thus was born a community of practitioners calling themselves Clinical Ecologists. But with conventional medicine proving ineffective as treatment many of these Clinical Ecologists began experimenting with alternative treatments, sometimes bringing partial relief to their patients but at the same time earning further disdain from the establishment. There was also a problem with outright quackery as physicians of dubious background jumped on the Clinical Ecology bandwagon, attracted by a very desperate and disillusioned predominantly middle-class patient 'market' ready to be bled dry. The problem of quackery in Clinical Ecology remains to this day as alternative medicine makes continued inroads into the sphere of general health care. This has often hurt the public perception of MCS sufferers who frequently find themselves turning to the dubious science or deliberate anti-science of alternative medicine practitioners and their sometimes bizarre methods of treatment for relief when none can be found from conventional medicine. With the end of the Gulf War in 1991 the 'family' of MCS sufferers was joined by a new community of veterans suffering from what came to be known as Gulf War Syndrome. GWS appeared to have much in common with MCS and it has often been suggested that they are one in the same. But its sufferers were commonly subject to symptoms seen only in the most extreme MCS cases. And it exhibited a peculiar ability to migrate from solders to their families when they returned home, as if whatever was causing the illness was being brought home with them. GWS proved far more controversial than MCS simply because of the political impact of veterans coming home disabled for unexplainable reasons. There were implications that the illness might be a side-effect of the already controversial military use of innoculation cocktails and other drugs unapproved for use by the general public as well as emerging accounts of blundering in the handling of suspected chemical weapons. Miltary brass from all countries involved in the Gulf War took on a unified stance in denial of the existence of GWS, the most adamant being the British military, that nation already notorious for having taken children afflicted with MCS from their homes, locking them up in insane asylums, and sending their parents to prison when they complained. To date GWS remains an unresolved issue throughout the world, leaving thousands of disabled veterans in limbo.

By the end of the 20th century MCS, GWS, and the related conditions of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia had come to be known under the generalized non-clinical term of Environmental Illness. EI had become generally accepted as a 'real' health problem in most industrialized nations except for the US, Canada, Britain, and Australia where the concerted lobbying of vested interests and the political bickering of physicians have insured a perpetual debate over its legitimacy and a fracturing of recognition among government agencies. Most MCS patients totally disabled by the illness in the US can successfully obtain Supplemental Security Income like other disabled people but typically only after extended legal battles. Housing assistance through the HUD Section 8 program is available but inconsistently from one state to another, and often moot in any case as non-toxic public housing is non-existent. Many theories now compete as to the cause of this illness but research funding remains poor, the MCS patient community itself being the primary source of research funding. Treatment is a process of trial and error with no definitive methods. Only one strategy has proven effective in halting or reversing the illness for the majority of patients; total avoidance. This is where an EI sufferer seeks to completely isolate himself from all sources of potential chemical or pollution exposure, hence the peculiar lifestyle illustrated by the Mike Monroe character. The numbers of MCS patients is unknown due to the problem of misdiagnosis, though the number of individuals disabled by it has been roughly estimated in the area of a million with, according to an estimate by a recent Connecticut state study, some 57% of these people currently or at one time homeless due to the lack of available non-toxic housing and the scarcity of low pollution regions.

The life of the typical EI sufferer is a rough one. In most cases they have been impoverished by the health care system by the time they obtain any definitive diagnosis, thanks to the fact that doctors and psychiatrists don't give refunds when they make mistakes or have no answers. (imagine if your auto repairmen returned your car unrepaired and just shrugged his shoulders then handed you a bill for his labor...) This pattern of impoverishment through diagnosis chasing is one of the chief causes for homelessness among EI sufferers, and something patients of many other 'orphan' medical conditions also face. This impoverishment is, understandably, a great cause of resentment for the EI patient toward the medical establishment and is one of the key motivators for the exploration of alternative medicine, a situation which even EI-friendly conventional physicians are generally in denial about.

The degree of disability imposed by EI varies greatly, as does its duration. Many patients remain relatively functional despite their chronic health problems and, if lucky, go into a kind of remission with a simple change of lifestyle, usually involving the reduction in pollution in their environment. Others are totally disabled for life, unable to work, confined to a home stripped bare of all possible sources of chemical exposure, and limited to a diet of exclusively organic foods. A sense of alienation and isolation is virtually ubiquitous among EI sufferers, the logical consequence of being impoverished, frequently lied to, chronically fatigued, and unable to freely participate in a society with ubiquitous cosmetics use, pollution, and chemical-laden foods. Families are commonly destroyed by this illness, spouses and children unable to cope with the lifestyle changes or the illness and poverty induced stress imposed on their households. Not surprisingly, a number of the infamous Dr. Kavorkian's patients were EIs. Those who contracted the illness in childhood have perhaps the toughest time of all, being subject to great abuse by their peers because of their inability to keep-up physically as well as their peculiar habits and lifestyle, hampered in their access to education, and subject to the physical and emotional side-effects of incorrect medical treatment and the indignity and dehumanization of struggle with bureaucracy at an early age.

With total avoidance the only nominally effective treatment strategy, the predominant issue for the EI community is non-toxic housing, due to the combined problems of poverty, a scarcity of low pollution regions that aren't in complete wilderness, and the generally primitive and toxic nature of mainstream housing. Creating non-toxic housing is not terribly complicated and, as this journal demonstrates, there are a great many ways to do it. But in general it is difficult because of the high cost and scarcity of clean chemical-free building materials and the very primitive skill base among general contractors. All non-toxic housing is 'custom' and a typical home can cost twice to several times as much as one of the same size built conventionally. Even stripped-down second-hand trailers adapted to EI needs can cost as much as $2000 per line foot. There are perhaps only a half dozen builders and architects in the entire American continent routinely building these kinds of homes, primarily for an upper-class market which has adopted the current fashion of 'organic living.'

Contrary to the impression given by Northern Exposure, Alaska is not a popular place of refuge for people with EI due to the fact that many sufferers experience a poor tolerance for temperature extremes. The most popular refuge -some would say dumping ground- for EIs is North/Central Arizona whose mild dry climate is coupled with relatively low levels of pollution, easier access to organic food and EI-specialist health care, cheap rural land, and less hassle over housing standards. There you will find EIs who have fled polluted regions and toxic housing with little in the way of preperation, roughing it in the desert as they wait years on HUD voucher waiting lists and wandering from place to place in search of the rare unadulterated adobe or concrete block home rental with some prospect of being cleaned of its toxic interior. They live in tents, stripped-down trailers, and sometimes just their cars, the colder months shared by as many as a dozen people in the unused garages of the few EIs lucky enough to afford safe homes of their own. And these are the lucky ones. Consider the plight of those already confined to toxic conventional housing in heavily polluted regions, isolated, too sick to work, too poor to escape, and unlikely to survive roughing it in the desert even if they could. Their existence is a lonely painful wait for the inevitable collapse of their finances and death on the steet. We only know statistically about the EIs who have survived this. What about those who didn't? Make no mistake, this is as potentially a terminal disease as AIDS and we don't know how many people have already been lost because they died forgotten and alone. The homeless only have two official causes of death; violence or 'natural causes.'

Re:For those of you.... (5, Insightful)

MightyTribble (126109) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502675)

Exactly. It's quack science.

Anything from a peer-reviewed medical journal? Or is "the Man" keeping them down?

Um.. MOVE! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502591)

Steps to finding a non-toxic home:


The rest will be much easier once step 1 is complete.

Re:Um.. MOVE! HMMM This isn't quite right (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502827)

Steps to finding a non-toxic home:

2. ?????
3. Profit!

I feel better now

Re:Um.. MOVE! (0)

gid-goo (52690) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502867)

New Jersey sucks balls anyway so I can't see why he wouldn't do this right away anyway. Hell, New York, Pensylvania or Maryland is better than the cesspool of NJ.

impossible quest (5, Insightful)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502594)

Well, without building a treehouse and moving there.

Anything chemically processed is a potential source of 'toxins', not to mention possible natural toxins that may get trapped in your house instead of floating around in nature.

This quest, like the quest for a bacteria free home (lead by those lysol nuts), are not realistic.

What you can do is get outside and exercise/experience the real world more often, and this exposure to a wide variety of things should help one's body recover from being sheltered inside a closed system that contains toxins.

Re:impossible quest (1)

BFaucet (635036) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502749)

Yeah right! Next you'll be telling me to get a girlfriend...

Re:impossible quest (1)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502801)

Well, without building a treehouse and moving there.

Are you saying there are no chemicals in trees? How about pollen?

Uhm, I think some things need explaining... (1)

defile (1059) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502600)

What is "Environmental Illness"? I've never heard it before in my life.

What does "toxic home" mean in this context? I've never thought of lampshades as dangerous. I'm left guessing here.

Obviously I can look these all up (and I will). But any other reporting source would've explained these concepts in some detail.

Re:Uhm, I think some things need explaining... (4, Informative)

Maeryk (87865) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502664)

What is "Environmental Illness"? I've never heard it before in my life.

Basically, from what I have read, it is one step below bubble-boy on the allergen list. Instead of being suceptible to germs, these people are susceptible to gasses and chomicals that most of us tolerate fine.

What does "toxic home" mean in this context? I've never thought of lampshades as dangerous. I'm left guessing here.

It means that every piece of anything chemically processed that you have in your home slowly breaks down over time, and gives off noxious chemicals. Everything from formaldehyde to radon.
Most of us dont notice, but it apparently makes some people _very_ sick. Couple this with todays "need" to make homes virtually air tight, and you have a place that makes reactive people really, really sick.

Obviously I can look these all up (and I will). But any other reporting source would've explained these concepts in some detail.

He kinda does on a another page.. but you have to dig a bit to find it. It apparently involves moose, alaska, and nOrthern Exposure.


Re:Uhm, I think some things need explaining... (1) troll (593289) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502812)

" I've never thought of lampshades as dangerous. I'm left guessing here."

Obviously someone missed When Lampshades Attack on fox.

toxic housing: (1, Interesting)

Maeryk (87865) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502606)

My mom just built a house. She has spent upwards of 20 years designing it to be mostly passive solar, and was very careful about what went into it. (She is, honestly, just this side of whacko when it comes to believing "industry safety" and pays much attention to the very non-publicized reports in things like science news, etc).

Helping with the house, I learned a _heck_ of a lot about what I dont want in my house. The stuff that you put in and never give a thought about is incredibly dangerous! From the formaldehyde released by everything from your insulation, plywood, and flooring to your couch and carpets, added to the fact that todays houses are usually wrapped in Tyvek or some other non-permeable barrier means you are breathing deadly gasses the entire time you are home.

This is scary stuff! I have to personally wonder how much of the "cancer rise rates" are directly related to things like this.. especially the huge jump in Lung Cancer in the last 20 years. It certainly is not only due to smoking, as smoking levels have been decreasing steadily.

It's kind of scary what "they" can get away with selling you as "safe". There are huge warnings on certain exotic hardwoods that the dust created by them is toxic, and some people can have allergic reactions to them, but CCM and CCA pressure treated wood is regularly used by people to build raised bed gardens. (Nothing like having chromium, arsenic, cadmium, and other fun things leaching into the soil around your tomatoes!) I honestly think if most people knew exactly how they make PT lumber, they would _never_ use it for their kids to play on or in their homes. But lots of people do. This stuff is going to be the Love Canal of the future.


People like me, however, when I bring it up, are just labeled "paranoid". The thing that REALLY annoys me is that things like Cedar and Redwood are naturally just as resistant to decay, and a fully renewable resource.


Your mom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502667)

My mom just built a house ... She is, honestly, just this side of whacko...
Honestly, why am I not surprised?

Re:toxic housing: (5, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502709)

Your mother is a crackpot. and she is bringing you over to that side.

Yes, MANY things can release som nasty gasses. but your wild ass remark about tyvek sealing it in is proof of a crackpot logic. Does your house have doors and windows? how about a properly installed heating system with the correct fresh air intake and heat exchanger? if the house was correctly designed you change over the air in the home at least 2-3 times and hour.

The new home can have trace amounts of nasties in it's atmosphere, but by the time you move into it, a gas chromatagraph cannot even detect it. and it is alot more sensitive than anything you can gain access to "measure" how dangerous a home is.

My father was a contractor, In college chemistry classes I wrote a thesis on such crackpot theories, and using standard science proved that it's all a bunch of hooey in a properly built home.

Re:toxic housing: (1)

Lemmeoutada Collecti (588075) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502909)

Having an uncle who is a contractor, I agree with you. A properly buils home has already been exposed to release much of the toxic fumes. As the subcontractors go in and out throughout the building, the entire home is exposed to fresh air flow until the last few days. They leave windows, doors, skylights, and anything else they can open throughout the process.

There is, however, one key phrase in that: 'properly built.' Based on the lowest bidder model, properly built is often traded off for lower cost and less effective techniques, cheaper materials, etc.

The best advice is simple. Talk to the contractor. Ask questions. Reputable, reliable contractors who are willing to 'properly build' have no problems telling you wether they are using pressure treated lumber, or are instead using environmentally friendly CDX plywood. Detailing who the manufacturer of each product is. Do not be afraid to tell your contractor what you want. After all, it is your home, and your life.

Re:toxic housing: (0, Troll)

gid-goo (52690) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502917)

Wow, in college. That must have been some serious research you did. You and Doogie Howser must have been up doing your titrations in to the wee hours to get the data for your journal article.

And your dad a contractor? Jesus, you're all over that shit. How could anyone possibly refute contractor Dad and an undergrad paper.

Re:toxic housing: (4, Informative)

pthisis (27352) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502767)

This is scary stuff! I have to personally wonder how much of the "cancer rise rates" are directly related to things like this.. especially the huge jump in Lung Cancer in the last 20 years. It certainly is not only due to smoking, as smoking levels have been decreasing steadily.

Your assumption that there is a "huge jump in lung cancer in the last 20 years" is wrong, or at best misleading.

Age-adjusted lung cancer rates have declined significantly from 1990-1999--age-adjusted rates are the only ones that are really worth looking at, they're what for instance the CDC and other bodies use since they account for increases in lifespan. Preliminary data for 2000-2002 seems to indicate this trend is continuing. If there is an increase over the last 20 years it's because an earlier increase (1983-1989) hasn't been wiped out yet.

Remember that cancer rates lag smoking rates, too, so if smoking was halved today that would show up more and more over the next decade(s) rather than showing up immediately. is one good resource for this data.


Re:toxic housing: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502837)

"Nothing like having chromium, arsenic, cadmium, and other fun things leaching into the soil around your tomatoes!) "
Yeah, it's not like chromium, arsenic, cadmium, COME FROM THE FUCKING SOIL IN THE FIRST PLACE, IDIOT.
Geez, where do you think this stuff comes from in the first place?
Take your Paxil, get a girlfriend, GO OUTSIDE. But be careful, there's nitrogen, carbon dioxide, ozone and krypton out there!

Re:toxic housing: (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502875)

That house she built sounds interesting. Any web site with details?

Alaska (1)

l33t j03 (222209) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502616)

He needs to watch more Northern Exposure. They had a good couple of episodes with a character who suffered from the same thing. As usual, TV provides all the answers.

Psychological (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502618)

From what i've read/seen on the topic of people with multiple personalities, many of the personalities have sicknesses that other personalities don't. Some wear glasses others don't. Could this mean that like multiple personality disorder this person has created his sickness?

Wrong problem (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502620)

Gypsum, plaster, brick, wood, steel are inert. If you can't handle these natural substances then too bad. Fate is not always kind. Life is not fair. Perhaps you have a psychological problem. Maybe a psychiatrist would be your best bet.

Re:Wrong problem (5, Informative)

Maeryk (87865) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502693)

Gypsum, plaster, brick, wood, steel are inert. If you can't handle these natural substances then too bad. Fate is not always kind. Life is not fair. Perhaps you have a psychological problem. Maybe a psychiatrist would be your best bet.

BZZT:! Wrong answer. Gypsum is bad for anyone who has respiratory issues, because it is such a fine dust, and anyone with any kind of silica allergy has serioius problems with it.

There are several woods that are downright toxic.
Line a room with Cedar and make the house airtight and see how long you survive. The gas given off by it is not only toxic to Moths, it is toxic to people also. But the little blocks you keep in your closet dont release enough to sicken you, unless you are highly reactive to it.

Bricks are also not inert all the time. The JIRR
had an article on a brick in Boston that was carrying syphillus. (yes, that was meant to be humorous, but its true).

Yeah.. I know i'm feeding a troll.. but your misinformation is staggering.


Re:Wrong problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502777)

You are wrong. Baking flour is a fine dust which can be bad for your lungs. Toxins in the puffer fish are among the most deadly known. Cobra venom is so powerful that a few milliliters can kill dozens of men. Don't eat bread. Don't eat fish. Kill all snakes.

Sorry bub, buy gypsum board is a solid, not a "dust". Cedar is so expensive that no one would use it in home construction. You can pick and choose instances of exceptional cases that have no bearing on daily reality. You are playing games and not living in the real world. Wait ... I've already said that, in other words see a psychiatrist.

for YOU, rot-13 readers!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502626)

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gurve ubzrf sbe infg fgergpurf bs gvzr, ohg jung unccraf jura lbhe ubzr
orpbzrf lbhe cevfba? Revp Uhagvat fhssref sebz Raivebazragny Vyyarff juvpu
crecrghnyyl pbasvarf uvz gb uvf ubzr, juvpu rira nf pnershyyl sheavfurq nf
vg vf, vf fgvyy fybjyl xvyyvat uvz. Uvf jrofvgr, Furygre, vf obgu n cyrn sbe
uryc naq n thvqr qbphzragvat bar zna'f dhrfg sbe aba-gbkvp ubhfvat."

It's the end on human-readable tyranny on Slashdot!!

(-1, Erqhaqnag) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502853)

Lrnu, gunaxf, V nyernql ernq gur gbc bs gur cntr. Erqhaqnag nff.

Non Toxic Housing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502628)

At present my work time is being occupied by the pursuit of three housing strategies; rent supported multi-unit housing, home-brew modular construction, and the most recent addition of relocating and adapting a Lustron home. Unfortunately, none of these seem to be coming together.

The first of these is the result of a colleague in the mortgage brokerage industry discovering that I had a very good credit rating despite a lack of income and suggesting the idea of mortgaging the construction of several small rental homes or a multi-unit home so that the rent from most of them would cover the mortgage on the whole. This is a simple strategy that has been exploited by many but my situation complicates it due to the regressive restrictions of the Social Security Administration on what SSI recipients can do with their property. SSI recipients are prohibited from owning any kind of 'investment property' and thus in order for this idea to work I would have to have all my rental units on the one single piece of home property I am allowed. Because the needs of my disability require a relatively remote location free of pollution, the only likely tenants are people with my same health problem. This means that all the housing units have to be built to the same non-toxic construction standard and as a result are much more costly than they might otherwise be. This, in turn, creates the dilemma of needing immediate 100% occupancy because the higher construction cost means less principle can be reserved to make mortgage payments while waiting for tenants. My colleague in the mortgage business tells me that it would be impossible to make this work unless I can have tenants signed up before the mortgage application is even made.

Demand for non-toxic housing is extreme in the US. HUD receives hundreds of calls a month by desperate EIs looking for this kind of housing. So as long as the rent rate is reasonable, it is guaranteed that tenants will be found no matter how remote my location may be. The problem is that there is too much variability among the mix of sensitivities EIs have. It's relatively straightforward to make a home that is suitable in composition for some 90% of all EIs. But no one location in America can likewise match that because of the subtle ubiquity of pollution here, particularly from domestic sources. As a result, most EIs will not sign a lease for a home unbuilt because they cannot be sure they can tolerate it until they have tried it for at least a week. This problem has proved unsolvable so far.

A colleague in the EI community in Arizona recently referred me to key individuals in HUD with the intent that they might be able to offer a solution to this problem through a HUD guaranteed loan that might offer more flexibility in repayment terms. But it turned out that HUD does not offer such things to anyone but large corporations and non-profit organizations. They showed great interest in my project and have asked to be kept updated on its progress but they offer no help. HUD seems to have a sincere desire to find a solution to the non-toxic housing crisis in this country. They can't ignore the huge number of calls they receive about this problem. But they want a solution on their own terms -which basically means a single turnkey solution that works for 100% of all EI patients. They have tried to build non-toxic public housing in the past but it had poor results because they relied on a project team of EI patients with no construction experience and insisted on an urban location no serious EI sufferer could ever tolerate. They did try to offer me some useful information on what they mistakenly believed was non-toxic housing which was displayed in an exhibit on the National Mall in 2001. Called the Solar Decathlon, it was in fact an exhibition of solar pwoered prefab housing designed by university students. On examination, it turned out that not a single one of these could even come close to being suitable as non-toxic housing due to a common reliance on a large assortment of chemical laden materials.

The next strategy is something I have explored for many years, initially trying to find a prefabricated component system made of metal which would allow me to stockpile building components incrementally. The point to that is to overcome the restriction imposed by Social Security on SSI recipients saving any money whatsoever, and thus being left unable to save for a home or build equity for a mortgage. (it often seems as if the SSA's SSI policies are deliberately crafted to drive the disabled into homelessness...) No off-the-shelf building system proved effective because of the still primitive nature of their manufacture and, as a consequence, their impractically high cost. Thus in recent years I have shifted my attention to building system which offer the possibility of DIY parts fabrication. One approach that is most promising is the idea of reverse-engineering one of a variety of kit housing products whose structures are simple enough that their components are easily duplicated. But I lack sufficient workshop and dry storage space to make this work using lumber components and the only willing and inexpensive labor I've found for this is from someone 1000 miles from my location. At that distance shipping costs would make it impractical.

Recently I have taken another look at the N55 space frame system developed by a design group in Denmark. ( see also the Gallery section Min-A-Max and other Space Frames) This system is compelling in the fact that it uses fairly small stainless steel parts made from off-the-shelf angle stock which would not be damaged by the damp fungus prone storage space I have immediately available. But the parts count for this system is very high, their 20 square meter exhibit structure needing some 3000 strut parts. And there is no clear figure for the cost of structures built with this because they have all been experiments. The octet geometry is also somewhat limiting but an attractive pavilion style structure based on hexagonal clear-span room units enclosed by store-front glazing/panel systems is quite feasible and would be simpler to fabricate and assemble than the N55 demonstration structure. It remains unclear just how feasible this idea is since cost is unknown and metal components tend to require more tools and more work space to work with than wood.

Finally, I was recently introduced to a project by a group of Arizona EIs who are seeking to obtain anf relocate to Arizona several decommissioned Lustron homes from the Quantico US Marines base in Virginia. The Lustron is a unique bungalow style prefab home which was invented in the late 1940s as a solution to the post-war housing crisis but ended production after some 2500 units were built due to a political scandal. It is composed entirely of porcelain coated steel panels, inside and out, and uses a simple modular construction system that is fully demountable. Amazingly, these unusual homes have proven almost indestructible except by deliberate demolition and many of them remain to this day, mostly in the Midwestern states. Being completely non-toxic in composition, it could be ideal housing for EIs but needs some adaptation, particularly with the replacement of HVAC systems, insulation, and improvement in ventilation. But unless these homes can be acquired for virtually nothing the costs of adaptation, construction of a new foundation slab, and dismantling, refurbishing, shipping, and reassembly of their roughly 3000 parts would make them too expensive.

Environmental Illness (1)

Nogami_Saeko (466595) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502635)

When I was a poor student, I lived in a basement suite that had a problem during heavy rains... Namely that the floor became a bit squishy in areas...

Fortunately I moved out, however I did at one point find something resembling a truffle growing in a dark closet corner... Needless to say, I'm sure _that_ environment wasn't doing me any good.


Re:Environmental Illness (1)

fudgefactor7 (581449) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502698)

"...I did at one point find something resembling a truffle growing in a dark closet corner..."

That was no truffle, but a Fungi from Yuggoth! H.P. Lovecraft was right! ;)

Re:Environmental Illness (0)

thunderbee (92099) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502896)

Come on, we all know that fungi sprout on Yuggoth, not in dark closets.

it's psychosomatic... (4, Insightful)

egomaniac (105476) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502645)

Does the guy wear a tinfoil hat as well?

Studies of such "syndromes" as sensitivity to EMF have revealed that the people in question are utterly able to distinguish the presense of radio waves or whatnot. It's bogus -- they're scaring themselves to death.

I quote from The American Academy of Family Physicians website [] :
"[MCS] has been rejected as an established organic disease by the American Academy of Allergy and Immunology, the American Medical Association, the California Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, and the International Society of Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. It may be the only ailment in existence in which the patient defines both the cause and the manifestations of his own condition. Despite this, it has achieved credibility in workmen's [sic] compensation claims, tort liability, and regulatory actions."

"No evidence based on well-controlled clinical trials is available that supports a cause-and-effect relationship between exposure to very low levels of substances and the myriad symptoms reported by clinical ecologists to result from such exposure . . . . Until such accurate, reproducible, and well-controlled studies are available, the American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs believes that multiple chemical sensitivity should not be considered a recognized clinical syndrome."

"Review of the clinical ecology literature provides inadequate support for the beliefs and practices of clinical ecology. The existence of an environmental illness as presented in clinical ecology theory must be questioned because of the lack of a clinical definition. Diagnoses and treatments involve procedures of no proven efficacy."
Sorry to be insensitive, but until I see some better evidence for this being a real disorder, I'm going to assume that he's just another crackpot hypochondriac.

Re:it's psychosomatic... (0, Troll)

Maeryk (87865) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502726)

Sorry to be insensitive, but until I see some better evidence for this being a real disorder, I'm going to assume that he's just another crackpot hypochondriac

Bear in mind, exactly the same things were said about ADD, ADHD, Fibro-Myalgia, and a myriad of other things until they actually proved them. These are the same people who tell you Nutrasweet is "safe".

Sorry.. anything that bonds into my bloodstream, goes straight to my brain, and there releases Formaldehyde and Methanol is _not safe_, and I dont care how much the AMA and the NEJM say "its okay! We tested it for three years before we gave it to you!".


ADD, ADHD, Fibro-Myalgia, ... (-1, Flamebait)

jhunsake (81920) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502804)

they're all bullshit too!

Re:it's psychosomatic... (5, Informative)

z4ce (67861) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502860)

Nutrasweet aka Aspartame IS safe. My dad works for the Merisant corporation which makes Equal, the largest consumer of Nutrasweet. If Nutrasweet is not safe, then certainly the solution to the problem will be darwinism. My dad and all of the other executives drink the stuff with every beverage. If they're at a restaurant that doesn't have Nutrasweet, they request it, and so on. All of the studies have shown there is no link to aspartame and any problems, and it has been one of the most studied substances on the planet. Something like 7000 studies I believe. And Merisant is NOT paying anybody off.

As far as "Formaldehyde and Methanol" being such a problem, let me remind you that an eating an apple releases much more methanol into your system than the equal in your tea.

And actually for the most part I think ADD and ADHD are just names for normal kids who want to sedate for our instutitional learning facilities (I do believe there are some true cases, but the vast majority).

Re:it's psychosomatic... (3, Insightful)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502788)

I believe you're right about these illnesses being more psychiatric than physical. However, that doesn't mean that they're not real in terms of the suffering that these people go through. The "crackpot" label is a little harsh. This guy probably has a mental illness, but it's an illness all the same...


MightyTribble (126109) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502797)

If *all* the major peer-reviewed medical associations call it quackery, then it's Quackery with a capital "Q".

MCS/EI folks need good shrinks, not safe houses.

Judge Dredd, anyone? (1)

fudgefactor7 (581449) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502650)

This "illness" reminds me a bit too much of the condition footsie as described in the Judge Dredd comic books. It's labled as "future shock," wherein the sufferer can't deal with living in the necessarily confined spaces with large groups of individuals for long periods of time without it taking a physical and mental toll on the body--result being eventual madness and death. Of course the best idea is for this guy to (a) see a shrink, and (b) get out of NJ.

A suggestion (2, Insightful)

ptomblin (1378) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502653)

Everything I've read about "Environmental Illness" suggests that it's psychosomatic. The amount of money this guy is spending on a special house and medical quackery could buy an awful lot of psychotherapy.

Why would anyone voluntarily stay indoors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502655)

I think it's so lame that some /.ers are slaves to their computers. Go outside once in a while.

Re:Why would anyone voluntarily stay indoors? (0)

non-plus (260549) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502778)

I do. I've got my ThinkPad running Mandrake 9 and a 802.11b card routing to my xDSL. I use this to compute outside, sitting on my deck on the nice days. It's a great way to kill a day and if a much nicer computing enviroment.

There will only be more of this to come (2, Interesting)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502658)

In the near future, environmental problems will come home to roost - a direct result of the short-sighted environmental policies persued by both governments and corporations.

You may dismiss this as "tree-hugging BS", that's your perogative, but illnesses such as childhood asthma, leukemia, allergies, etc are all on the rise. And, as much as they try to hide it, pollution does maim and kill thousands, if not millions, every year.

Arguably, modern medicine is to blame as well. By curing the sick and the weak, modern medicine has prolonged the lives of people who would have otherwise died (including me). Don't get me wrong, I'm not against treating sick people but it's an inescapable fact that by allowing the weak to live you're weakening the gene pool.

Harsh facts but the facts all the same.

Re:There will only be more of this to come (1)

fudgefactor7 (581449) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502678)

"Arguably, modern medicine is to blame as well. By curing the sick and the weak, modern medicine has prolonged the lives of people who would have otherwise died (including me). Don't get me wrong, I'm not against treating sick people but it's an inescapable fact that by allowing the weak to live you're weakening the gene pool."

Does that mean you don't have the right to live? If so, perhaps you can deal with the situation directly.

the above statement is sarcasm...don't freak, yo.

Re:There will only be more of this to come (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502862)

"Does that mean you don't have the right to live?"
Wow, I think that 7 watt lightbulb you use for a brain is starting to light up. Nobody has ANY rights, these are strictly made up fictions by people for people. Ask the universe if it cares: Hello? Hello? Nope. Doesn't care.
Human beings will one day have their hands full with the long term consequences of our fooling around. Then come talk to me about 'rights'.

Re:There will only be more of this to come (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502805)

Sickly whiny losers like you dont get laid. Nor do the ugly or retarded.

It's a troll, sure, but it's true. Your doomsday Darwinism is drivel.

Re:There will only be more of this to come (1)

Shenkerian (577120) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502819)

It's not an inescapable fact at all. We don't yet know enough about the human genome to understand all of the effects any single one has.

The obvious example is the (I believe recessive) gene for sickle cell anemia. You might argue that by treating the proportionally large population in Africa with sickle cell anemia, we're allowing the gene to propogate to continue and thereby "weakening the gene pool." You'd be overlooking the fact, however, that this very same gene increases resistance to malaria.

Re:There will only be more of this to come (2, Insightful)

strider (3069) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502834)

It is correct to suggest we should be worried about the potential lethality of the substances we manufacture. That is precisely why people who claim they are alergic to "chemicals" are so dangerous. They do damage to an important issue through their irrational claims. Look people, EVERYTHING is a fucking chemical. That includes things like AIR and water. Just because it came out of a factory does not *necesarily* mean it is toxic. Plenty of "natural" things are far far more toxic than anything in your kitchen. "Fragrances" are not a category of chemical with a specific bilogical effect.

As to medicine ruining the genetic crop, I don't really think it's that big of a deal. First off, if the gene pool is "weekened" because more people are surviving it seems indicative to me of their being a different standard for survival in the modern age. This doesn't mean were all going to get weak and die. Second, evolution occurs gradually. Finally, I think brains are a more important adaption than brawn. The human race also appears to be getting smarter over time.

a very narrow view (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502870)

i love how people can take a look at an incredibly complex system, and say "x" is causing "y". is more pollution the only thing that's changed while these illnesses have been on the rise? yeah, i didn't think so.

instead of saying that pollution is causing all this, how about going with a much more likely cause? that the average fitness of people has fallen through the floor. people are more sedentiary today than ever, and eat worse as well. guess what? medical science has proven that a fit individual who eats well is significently more resistent to disease and illness. i donna know, but that seems like a much better answer.

Wow! (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502660)

And i thought it was life that was slowly killing him and me and everyone else.

i would love to read the article, (slashdotted) but if this is anything like the other 900,000,000 crackpots out there making claims that X,Y and Z are slowly killing him/her yet no scientific evidence or other tests show this to be a fact, I'd simply write it off as another crackpot looking for attention.

I know thereare some rare diseases out there that are really freaky, but this smells way too much like "Just Another Nut" or JAN for short.

Obsessive compulsive? (-1, Offtopic)

filmcritic (190324) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502673)

A friend of mine has severe obsessive compulsive disorder. He generally don't leave the house in fear of getting germs. He washes bedsheets, pillow and cushion covers, etc every day of the week. He washes his hands 947 times a day. He carries Lysol everywhere in the house. He washes his CDs for God's sake! When he does go out, everything he touches is covered by a paper towel. If he don't have a paper towel, he washes his hands immediately. It's pretty obvious my friend has a mental problem.

I think this environmental illness thing might be an extension of O/C disorder. Extreme paranoia over illness/sickness/germs. The brain is a powerful organ, capable of making one sick even if there's nothing wrong. I believe the term is psychosomatic.

See also, "Safe", a movie about EI (4, Interesting)

2Flower (216318) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502677)

In film class I saw a terrific movie called "Safe" which depicts the slow descent of a woman into Environmental Illness, starting as a mild allergy and ending as a nearly life threatening condition which mandated housing inside a 100% clean room geodesic dome (like on Northern Exposure).

The ending is a bit ambiguous (but only a bit) coming down slightly on the side of the condition being purely psychological. A reasonable assumption due to the complete lack of scientific evidence that EI exists beyond the patient's reactions, but it's hard to say one way or another when many people exhibit the same symptoms.

Your obligatory IMDB link: []

I actually HAVE heard of this... (1)

Agent Green (231202) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502679)

Someone who used to work overnights at my company had this condition, though not to quite the same severity as the person described in the article.

It was the strangest thing, after about one week in the building, she was hospitalized for a week with a respiratory condition. Her manager wasn't thrilled with the idea of telecommuting for anyone, so she constantly got flak. However, she worked overnights, I could never understand what the big deal was.

I think it's possible for people to have some pretty severe allergic reactions to chemicals and stuff, but to be allergic to everything?? I agree with some of the other readers here that there has to be some kind of psychological component.

Puhleeze. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502682)

People like this annoy the shit out of me. Alergic to everything under the sun (including the sun itself). I have one word for this guy: "Darwin". Survival of the fittest baby! If you are sickly and weak -- you die. Which leaves the gene-pool that much stronger because all the losers like this guy die off. He could use a good shot of Lysol with some household cleansers.

Environmental Illness? (2, Interesting)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502701)

Environmental Illness is much like RSI. RSI
is one of the psychosomatic illnesses that
the more you think you might have it, and
the more you worry about having it, the
more it starts to feel like you have it.
In Australia, when the courts dismissed
RSI as a bogus illness, thousands of employees
coincedentally became well and went back
to work.

I do believe this guy really is sick, but
he made it that way through pure mind-power.
He could unmake it if everyone would just
stop feeding him sympathy.



Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502773)

100% correct. 'Environmental Illness' isn't a disease. It's usually a mental disorder where you believe you're allergic to everything.

There are people who are hyper-allergenic, or extra sensitive to smoke or trace chemicals like benzyne or other stuff that 'outgasses' from paint, carpet, etc, but it doesn't "slowly kill them". It makes them uncomfortable.

Re:Environmental Illness? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502840)

RSI is not bogus, but the extent of it is probably over-exagerated.

There ARE useful lists that may help... (5, Informative)

Delgul (515042) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502711)

In the industry I work in, very extensive lists are available that describe which chemicals may be used in production facilities and which products are specifically forbidden. Do not underestimate the extend of this: This goes as far as the paint on the outside door or the kind of tissues allowed to wipe your nose with ;-). The reason for this is that even the smallest quantity of harmful chemicals in the air can disrupt your production process.

These lists often provide a reason for allowance/disallowance of the specific chemicals. Some dangerous chemicals (paints for instance) may still be approved because they simply don't leak into the environment. If this is so, the lists state these reason. This info may be very valuable for these people.

I am not at liberty to provide these lists here, but you might be able to convince some of these industries to help. I work in a company producing color picture tubes, but I can also imagine that you might find help in the chip-industry.

Hope this helps a bit, cause things like this send shivers down my spine...

Adobe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502746)

i recently seen a show about adobe houses that are built of mud brick, there are some built back in the 1700's that are still standing today...

plus the advantage of adobe houses is they are literally dirt cheap...

Errrrr? ehhhhh??? What??? (1)

Fyndlorn (88381) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502768)

What the crap is this buy talking about? Is it just me or do the words on that website look like the gibberish of a loonie to anybody else?

I was not surprised to find the this 'disease' is generally concidered to be non-existant.

This guy should be seeking psychological counciling, not alternative construction materials.

Quit whining... (1)

grub (11606) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502776)

The guy could always live in a bubble but nooooo.. he has to play the victim card and make a web page. Heck, he could even web enable his bubble with the RJ45 server mentioned in the previous slashdot story. []

Mud Huts (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502790)

The solution is simple, build yourself a mud hut. That is how a great portion of people on earth are currently living.

Dangerously close to quackery (5, Interesting)

TheMonkeyDepartment (413269) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502799)

This guy says he was diagnosed with "systemic candidiasis." This set off some alarm bells for me -- as in my opinion, it's currently a big pseudo-medical quack health craze.

A few years ago, I got really sick. While I was trying to figure out what was wrong, I read about "systemic candidiasis" (one of the things this guy has been diagnosed with). So I talked to my doctor about it.

Turns out, "candidiasis" is one of the most misdiagnosed diseases, because most of the time, people diagnose themselves with it. My doctor told me that yes, occasionally, people with very suppressed immune systems can get yeast overgrowths, which is an extremely serious, potentially fatal condition, usually treated by antifungals. It is also possible for some people to get an oral candidiasis infection. This is cured with a simple mouthwash.

Apparently, though, many people convince themselves they've got candidiasis -- blame all their various health problems on it -- and then become obsessed with this idea that yeast is taking over their body. It's a mass delusion, like the idea that microwaves leave radiation behind in your food.

Go ahead -- Google for it [] . Read through, for example, the A Better Way [] website. Or try the [] website. If the stuff in these pages doesn't set off your "quack" alarm bells, you're not reading it carefully enough. They talk about candida overgrowth, but also vague, medically questionable talk about "acid/alkaline body imbalances" and the like.

You should also be aware that most of these websites are selling something. See that as a red flag? You should.

Here's the symptoms they list:
The most common symptoms are: an incapacitating fatigue and problems with concentration and short-term memory, flu-like symptoms such as pain in the joints and muscles, hyper-acidity/acid reflux, unrefreshing sleep, sore throat, sinusitis, headache. Visual disturbances may include blurring, sensitivity to light and eye pain. Psychological problems may include depression, irritability, anxiety, panic attacks, personality changes, and mood swings. More of the physical symptoms may include chills and night sweats, shortness of breath, dizziness and balance problems, sensitivity to heat and/or cold, alcohol intolerance, irregular heartbeat, irritable bowel, low-grade fever or low body temperature, numbness, tingling and/or burning sensations in the face or extremities, dryness of the mouth and eyes (sicca syndrome), menstrual problems including PMS and endometriosis, recurrent yeast infections, recurrent ear infections, rashes and dry, flaking skin, jock and rectal itching, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), allergies and sensitivities to noise/sound, odors, chemicals, anemia, weight changes without changes in diet, light-headedness, feeling in a fog, fainting, muscle twitching and muscle weakness, jerky-leg syndrome, low sex drive. These are only the most common documented symptoms.

OK, with a symptom list this long and vague, a lot of people could reasonably assume they've got candidiasis. Many of these symptoms could be caused by so many other problems, though.

My doctor compared this to the old craze, in the early 1900's, where people started getting really obsessed with their colons. They were convinced that the waste in their colons was somehow putrefying and poisoning their bloodstream. People were pumping laxatives, even having their colons removed unnecessarily. Turns out, we discovered that a properly functioning colon doesn't poison your body at all.

I'm not saying this guy is crazy. I'm sure he's really sick. I'm just concerned that his "diagnosis" may have sucked him into a world of quackery and scientifically questionable treatments.

OT: Hey! (0, Offtopic)

Draoi (99421) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502810)

His website just popped up a Javascript message; "Looks better in a newer browser"

I'm using Omniweb 4.2 beta 2 (v435.2) - it came out yesterday!

(Do I win a prize or something? :-) )

Re:OT: Hey! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502861)

It came out three days ago, you fucking liar.

I'm alergic to my cube at work (4, Funny)

ReidMaynard (161608) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502816)

I break out in apathy every morning.

A given cause (2, Informative)

Sargent1 (124354) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502821)

Unlike many cases of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity that I've read about, he actually gives a possible cause in his autobiography page [] .

After some study and positive response from trial treatment, I was finally formally diagnosed as having Systemic Candidiasis as well as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity resulting from the immune system breakdown caused by decades of going without proper treatment.

Systemic Candidiasis is a recognized disease [] , and is associated with people whose immune systems are out of whack, most notably AIDS patients. I've no idea whether or not this could lead to MCS; as a number of other posters have pointed out, the existence of MCS is debatable. But I did find it interesting that he gives a possible contributor to his immunological breakdown and subsequent MCS.

Executive summary: the guy is nutcase (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502824)

Solution: suck it up; be a man.

Too much Mr. Rogers. No enough Clint Eastwood.

MCS from a skeptical viewpoint (4, Interesting)

WallyHartshorn (64268) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502832)

We've discussed multiple chemical sensitivity on the Skeptic News [] . In addition, QuackWatch has written on the topic [] and the American Council on Science and Health has produced a report about multiple chemical sensitivity [] . Here's an excerpt from the conclusion:
Convinced by proponents that they are environmentally ill, these patients are misdiagnosed, treated improperly and often persuaded to alter their lifestyle in unnecessary and life-limiting ways. In addition, their demands for compensation, insurance payments, workers compensation and special treatment are burdening industry, government and society as a whole. Unsick people who are convinced by clinical ecologists that they risk future illness and are suing for damages compound the already substantial legal problem.

Natural Selection (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502839)

Sorry buddy, bad luck.

there is no winning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502842)

First people complained about deforestation. Now that alternatives to wood are being used, they cry about those materials being toxic and causing them Enviromental Illness. I think they accidentally put an ENVIRO in front of that, because this is just Mental Illness.

Um...there IS a door there you know. (1)

Phoenix (2762) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502849)

Granted there are times where I'm working on a project and I'll be up in my home office till the wee hours of the morning. There have even been times where I'be been in that office for an entire weekend non-stop (save for food and restroom breaks of course).

But I've never considered my house a 'prison'.

I have in the past and probally in the future will work like a dog in my house getting something urgent done as fast as I can, but when the job is done (or when I really need a break) There is this nice big rectangular thing in my living room called "The Front Door".

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm getting tired of the image of the poorly skin-toned loser who hasn't seen the "Damn Big Blue Room" since he/she/it moved into the dwelling.

I for one and many of my geek friends have lives *away* from the computer. I'm in the SCA (, I play Paintball, I hike the applachain trail every year, I go to concerts. Heck I've even been known (and I know, this is unheard of in the stereotypes) date women on a regular basis.

If this guy's house is a prison and he needs help the first thing he should do is grab the plug to his computer(s), yank them out of the damn wall and walk out the freaking door.

People like him are the reason we're painted like we're all a bunch of anti-social nerds who are all but wired to the computer.


MCS/EI probably psychosomatic (3, Interesting)

wayward_son (146338) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502858)

Not to belittle anyone's pain, but MCS/EI is more than likely psychosomatic.

My mother-in-law had something similar, although nowhere near as severe as this case. She was allergic to most everything, including things that were supposedly hypoallergenic.

It turns out that her illness was caused in large part by stress and anxiety, much of which was subconscious. She only found relief after going to this guy in Georgia, Pastor Henry Wright, who teaches about the spiritual nature of disease. No, he's not a "faith healer". However, what he does do is treat the underlying spiritual and psycological problems that tend to cause chronic illness.

Yes, some of his theology may be a little off the wall, but medically he seems to know what he's talking about. I know several people who have been down there with chronic illness and improved greatly after going.

the people... (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502859)

...the people I've been working for, for a few years now, both suffer from this. My girlfriend and I are the caretakers here, swap out work for squatting rights, etc. Anyway, I can see the tremendous problems involved with this situation. These folks go to great lengths to alleviate their problems but there are some practical solutions. You have to both work on your health and also work on the abode. For example, when they first moved in, the carpets installed were too new and still outgassing, so they had us strip them out. The floors are concrete.(this is a very large three story home, the original owner was a big building contractor, worked with concrete on high rises, so he built his house like that) We sent away mailorder bought low vapor special paint, painted the floors with that, then used old used persian rugs made from wool for the floors. We use special no vapors pure soap products. No perfumes or scented anything. We installed electrostatic and charcoal filters on the homes central HVAC systems, that really helped to keep the interior air clean, especially molds and dust, etc. They try to buy or we grow here onsite, all organic food, eliminate all the sprays and nasty stuff that goes into "normal" food. A lot of it comes mail order in bulk, the fresh stuff is bought locally whenever avaialable, and we grow just lots of food here, one of our primary jobs is to run the gardens. They very rarely go into stores themselves, they just give us shopping lists and we do it for them, they really can't be around general crowds, way too much vapors with different folks perfumes, etc. Even stuyff you wouldn't normally think of as toxic can set them off, for instance normal packaging materials, even brown cardboard, I have literally seen the man here open a few boxes then suffer an allergic reaction, so most of the time we unpack their stuff ourselves and get the trash materials outside as quickly as possible. The multiple chemical sensitivity can come at any time, some folks it starts young in life, others happens after years of exposure, it just depends. They actually met in a clinic for this medical problem, then got married. the guy got his from running gas stations for years, finally it got oto him, she got hers from being a missionary overseas (taiwan)and in the town she was living in there was an industrial accident and some sort of chemical release, her whole building downwind got dosed, then she started getting sick all the time. Stuff happens.

Anyway, this couple take a lot of food supplements and go to alternative medical care providers because traditional medical professionals just really aren't very knowledgeable in either dietary matters or the chemical exposure fields, more or less broadly speaking.

Unfortunately, they are selling this great place and moving back to their original home soon because of the economy and their business losses, same as everyone else is, belt tightening, means we both lose our home and primary jobs at the same exact time. this place was cool with it's fabulous alternative energy system they installed, because of some medical devices they absolutely have to be able to run if grid power goes out, like oxygen accumulators, etc. Oh well. I already lost my other job, my salary paying job, worked my last day last weekend on a local farm. Been looking for months and months now to find something else, this economy is dismal when it comes to this, prices on homes way too high into the yuppie speculator range, most of the work I can do, being mostly a lifelong blue collar worker, has been taken locally by illegal aliens. This is no joke and no lie, it's real and in my face now. When it's just some theoretical discussion on the web it's one thing, when it means you personally are affected it's quite another. And because of the past few years explosion in illegal aliens locally, all the lower level places have been rented or sold,and what is left is terribly crappy and over priced. It fries my grits it does. And moving far away out of the area to someplace else is both prohibitively expensive, and with no guarantees the same thing won't happen again wherever "there" might be.

This bogus criminal government and corporate short term profits mentality just sucks.

No offense, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5502876)

So-called "environmental illness" is a psychosomatic illness. I strongly urge Eric Hunting and his ilk to stop whining like crybabies and get on with their lives.

it looks better in a new browser???? (-1, Offtopic)

lyapunov (241045) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502894)

WTF? I would not mind one pop up message that told my that but every fucking page?

Kiss my rosy red toxic ass!

Annoyed (1, Informative)

The AtomicPunk (450829) | more than 11 years ago | (#5502920)

Is anyone else annoyed by this whiner? I'm sorry he has issues, but many people do.

However, this guy mooches off the state and does nothing but bitch and moan about how he doesn't get enough money out of my pocket.

He seems very annoyed that he can't live well off of our money, and is shocked that he'd have to try and find a job.

Maybe I'm callous, but he sure seems ingrateful.

Admittedly, I scanned through the article pretty quickly, but - why can't he find an outdoor job??

If every environment makes him sick, he might as well be sick and working rather than sick and sitting on his butt at home living off of me.
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