How healthy is your bedroom?

It probably seems just fine. You get a full night's sleep and awake feeling just fine. I mean, if there was something wrong, you'd know it, wouldn't you? Maybe not.

by Peter H. Sierck, L.Ac, N.D.
e all care about the environment: we talk about ocean pollution, endangered species, hazardous waste, power plants, and hopefully do something about it. But it is easy to overlook our closest environment, our home - where we live, where we sleep, where we recuperate and heal.
Probably the most important place in our home is also the smallest - our bed. We spend one-third of our life in this one location. While asleep, the human body is many times more sensitive to environmental influences than when awake. During the day, the body has a highly active regulatory mechanism at its disposal to fend off stress. At night, the body, mind and soul want to relax.
At night the body regenerates what was depleted during the day. Nowhere is the impact of environmental stressors more significant than in the hours of sleep. Undisturbed relaxation is essential. It is the basis for health and vitality, two of the most important elements to our quality of life.
We are quick to remedy obvious dangers in our home: exposed electrical wires, spilled poisons, broken glass, etc. Yet, there can be unknown dangers lurking that are just as great a risk to our long-term well-being. Could your home have asbestos or rat poison in an air duct, mold in the closet or mushrooms in the walls? Are your carpets outgassing toxic chemicals? Are you exposed to carbon monoxide from a vent pipe or toxins from a misapplication of pesticides? Are you exposed to radioactivity from building materials, electric and magnetic fields from an extension cord jungle or flawed electrical system? Are you exposed to elevated microwave radiation from a cellular phone towers?
All of the above expose us to risks which may not be visible, noticeable or perceivable, but nevertheless are present. They can all cause biological effects - no matter what we think or know about them.

Case studies

Here are a few real-life case studies. These environmental stress factors are often unnecessary, easily avoidable and simple to fix. We do not have to renounce civilization and comfort to be on the safe side, but neither do we need to electrify our bedrooms like the cockpit of a jet. A little change here or there in our habits and practices - turning off an appliance or light, a correction by contractors, a new installation or purchase - can remedy the situation.

[Left] The first indication of a problem in this home was this black streak of mold along the wall.[Right] Removing the carpet and opening the wall shows extensive mold growth caused by a leaking water pipe.

[Left] Fungus growth inside the wall of this home, fueled by a water leak, is attacking the structural members. [Right] Mushrooms are great in salads ... but not in walls. Fungus growth is supported by a leaking roof.

Environmental surveys

In the previous examples, an environmental home survey exposed the causes or contributing factors to health problems. These surveys are often initiated as the result of illness that proves resistant to therapy. Common signs that a home survey may be in order include: Once a stressor is identified and removed, the body has a chance to regain its health. It is important to identify and assess the factors present in our indoor environment; to act on it, you have to know it's there.
Once a survey is conducted, it is important for the physician to be made aware of the results, as this information will aid the diagnosis and treatment. Experience by many physicians has shown that an undisturbed sleeping place is a prerequisite for successful medical treatment.
Children, the elderly, the ill and pregnant women are most susceptible. Therefore, if indicated, the physician should recommend an evaluation of the indoor environment.
An environmental assessment is based on observation, measurements and testing - not assumptions. Electromagnetic fields, ionizing radiation, radon gas, formaldehyde, chemicals, carbon monoxide, mold and bacteria, dust mites and other influences are no longer a mystery, but quantifiable physical realities. A thorough environmental analysis has to be comprehensive, and should indicate how to remedy identified problems.

Building biology

Indoor environmental science is still in its infancy. Many aspects have not been researched, and the study of correlations between possible stressors and their effects are far from complete. But the practical experience of thousands of home surveys presents a clear message: impressive results can be produced when bedroom stress is eliminated, the body stabilizes and medical treatments start to work again.
Prof. Dr. Schneider, founder of the Institute for Baubiologie (building biology) and Ecology, has contributed much to this awareness in the last 25 years. The science of Baubiology is the study of the impact buildings have on human health, and the application of this knowledge to the construction of healthy homes and workplaces. Baubiology has led to ecologically and environmentally safe building methods, and non-toxic and natural building materials.


Governmental standards, where they exist, are primarily related to industrial work environments. These standards sometimes lack common sense. For example, a medical treatment room with EEG equipment does not tolerate more than 2 milliGauss (mG) of magnetic fields and 0.05 milliVolt (mV) of electric fields to protect the sensitive electronic equipment. However, industrial standards say we can expose humans to 50,000 mG and 20,000 mV, respectively, even though we have a pretty sensitive computer between our ears. These generous industrial limits cannot be transferred from a work environment to our bedrooms. Sleep is not work, day is not night, and a bedroom is not an industrial work place.
But, here we can act in our own best interest. We can reduce stress factors where they have the most impact - where the biological risks are the greatest, where improvements are feasible - between our own four walls! We can become aware and take charge.
Civilization and progress have side effects. Synthetic is not an automatic substitute for biological. Fashion is not a justification for lack of care. Money does not guarantee happiness and ignorance provides no protection from the consequences of our actions. Similarly, pills and injections are worthless when fighting building-related illness. The application of environmental assessment and building biology can be a powerful tool as part of a medical therapy. Even better, they may prevent illness from occurring in the first place.

Things you can do to keep your bedroom - and home - healthy

Peter H. Sierck, a naturopathic physician and licensed acupuncturist, had conducted more than 1,500 home and offices surveys. He teaches these subjects in the United States and Germany. He lives in Encinitas, California and his company, Environmental Testing & Technology, provides testing and abatement services.

Call to action ... what you can do

For more information, contact the following organizations and agencies.
Environmental Health Coalition 235-0281
Information on non-toxic pesticide applications

Department of Health Services338-2068
List of local environmental consultants and testing companies

EPA Indoor Air Hotline800-438-4318/601-688-2457
Information and resource on indoor air pollution

EPA Pesticide Hotline 800-858-7378
24-hour database provides information on health effects and ingredients of pesticides.

Institute for Baubiology and Ecology831-461-4371
Correspondence course on environmentally and ecologically safe building methods and material.

National Electromagnetic Field Testing Association - national referral service.

Air Pollution Control District694-3362
Tests outdoor air in San Diego County. Accepts air pollution complaints (nuisance).

Investigates workers safety and health violation. Provides consultations without fining.