Lori Reid, her husband
and their two children were a healthy family,
UPdate Fall 2001
We moved into our new home in 1994. It was energy efficient, with carpets throughout. We purchased new furniture for most of the house. There was nothing unusual in our home. It met all the codes.
For the first year after we moved in
the whole family had flu like symptoms, vomiting, exhaustion. The kids
and I lived on antibiotics. My son became extremely hyperactive and developed
speech problems. My daughter had constant earaches. I had problems thinking
clearly, poor memory, and violent mood swings.
But a few months later the problems started again. She had open lesions, yeast infections and her diaper area was beet red and painful. She developed pneumonia. She was miserably unhappy, had temper tantrums, poor coordination, was underweight and extremely hyperactive. The usual treatments did not work. I had begun to wonder if Katie fit the profile of a food and chemically sensitive child. We finally decided to take her to the Lahey clinic in Boston. Just before we went, an acquaintance who also had a sick child told me he was building a "chemical-free" home. He explained the problems of formaldehyde and volatile organic chemicals that are in today's building materials and furniture. This caught my attention because we had recently purchased a new bureau for Katie's room. I was skeptical that this could be the problem, but decided to take the dresser out and see what happened. Katie slept throughout the night for the first time in three months, and woke up happy. When we checked the sales receipt for the dresser, we found that she had become sick again exactly when we had purchased it.
When we went to the Lahey clinic, we went over Katie's whole history. Dr. Saryan told us some of the health problems associated with airtight homes, and said Katie might be hypersensitive to formaldehyde.
To check whether something in our new house was making Katie sick, we moved her back and forth from our house to my mother's. At my mother's she would get better. At home she would get worse again.
Once we realized that Katie's problems were related to the house, we made changes, step by step, testing Katie in the house after each one. We removed all the new carpet and furniture, sealed all the multi-density fiberboard (MDF) doors with a special sealant, sealed all the plywood floors and plywood shelving in the closets, removed all the cupboards and vanities and sealed them. We installed a stronger air exchange system, bought a special air purifier which would remove formaldehyde and other chemicals, and sealed the kitchen counter top. We changed all our cleaning and personal products, and changed Katie's bedding and clothing to all cotton. We had a special all cotton mattress made for her.
At the end of it all, we finally had
a home that Katie could live in. With the changes, my other kids also regained
their health. Katie is now 6. Her environment still needs to be carefully
monitored. At home she is a healthy child. Away from home her tolerance
is better than it was, but she still is unable to go to school, church
or shopping malls without her symptoms returning.