Home Sick? An Eye Opener on Toxic Homes

by | BiggerPockets.com

poison sign

Several months ago a good friend of mine I hadn’t seen in many years emailed me to tell me she was gravely ill; it seemed almost like a good-bye letter. She’s much younger than I and had always been very healthy when we were younger. She apparently had developed a mystery illness that had quite quickly ruined her life, caused her to lose her job, and had essentially convalesced her at merely 37 years of age.

Her symptoms were horrible and her email to me read like this:

In the last three weeks or so, I’ve been having seizures – was told today that they are partial complex seizures and likely caused by temporal lobe epilepsy.

We think they actually started in June or so, but have escalated since then. In June, they started out as me feeling very slow, like I was on narcotics or something (we thought it was a side effect of some medicine I was taking for GI problems, but now we know that was wrong). Over the past three weeks, this slowing down of speech and movement has changed dramatically.

Now, I have several different kinds of seizures and they are pretty much non-stop all day long with 10 – 30 minutes of a break in between. I honestly feel like they are frying my brains. They range from total catatonia (can’t move or speak but can still hear and understand and remember), to feeling very high and euphoric (this one I don’t mind so much except that it usually escalates to something worse), to stiff, starring and hands twitching or head shaking back and forth in a “no” movement or legs trembling or all of the above.

I have a lot of trouble concentrating and sometimes I just “go away” in the middle of a sentence. I can’t go anywhere right now without having a seizure because it’s too much stimulation. I’ve become quite the spectacle. Grocery stores lights and sounds trigger me, goats all bahhing at once, children arguing, every time I get into the car (of course I can’t drive – my husband drives me everywhere), concentrating on anything for more than 15 minutes, etc. The worst thing of all is when I am having a “stiff and staring seizure” and it turns electrical.

I feel an electrical feeling in my tongue and it starts moving and then about 30 seconds later, I feel waves of electricity all through my body. It is absolutely terrifying and unlike most people that have this kind of seizure, I don’t lose consciousness (this would make it a grand mal seizure) – I’ve had four of this kind now. I have 10 – 15 of the other varieties each day. Luckily, like most people with temporal lobe epilepsy, most of the time I have a warning or an “aura” that occurs 15 – 30 seconds before a seizure. I get an extremely dry/metallic taste in my mouth and my belly tenses up or I see flickering lights.

Now, obviously I’m no doctor, but I just didn’t believe she had suddenly developed epilepsy after all these years (and it was later confirmed through testing she had no epilepsy). Knowing she lived in Texas, and had purchased a home on an old farm a few months before this all began; I suggested to her that there was likely an environmental influence behind her issues.

She assured me she had already had the home checked and nothing such as Black Mold was present. Being inquisitive I asked if she had well water, and she indeed did. I then asked if there had been a lot of rain recently, and yes, there had been terrible rains; so I suggested she have the well water checked. She had already done so, but for fecal coliforms and bacteria, not for poisons. She acknowledged the farm was sprayed with insecticides on a regular basis, and promised to look into it. However, I just didn’t get the feeling she was buying what I was selling, so I did a bit of research on it. After visiting a dozen or so web sites on the subject of insecticide related poisoning I gathered a handful of facts and presented them to her.

It read like this:
Seizures can be induced by poisoning from camphor, cyanide, strychnine, santonin, brucine, or aspidium. Strychnine poisoning causes spasms which involve the whole body. High levels of aluminum have been found in the brains of those with epilepsy. Aluminum is a conductor of electricity, and trace amounts in the brain may trigger seizures. Toxic metals (lead, copper, mercury, and aluminum) are known to cause seizure. Hypoglycemia is linked to convulsions. Serum glucose levels fall just before a seizure. Beware of lead poisoning also. Allergies cause seizures in some; this includes chemicals, and pesticides. Doses of folic acid, in excess of 400 mcg per day, can trigger seizures. Have a hair analysis done, to see if a metal toxicity could be involved as a causal factor.

She later explained she had written off the water theory because she drank mostly bottled water, so didn’t feel that could be the source. Also, neither her kids nor husband were having the same troubles. So, knowing how women love to take long baths, I had to ask “you aren’t by chance the only one soaking in a tub full of that well water everyday are you?” Indeed she was.

Now believe me, once she read this information and pondered my tub theory, she contacted the Department of Ecology and they sent someone to test the water for metals and poisons. As you may have guessed, the flood rains had indeed caused the poisons from the crops to leach into the well, and had also loaded it with a nice selection of metals (hence the metalic taste in her mouth).

It will be a long time before she knows the extent of the damage done to her nervous system, and she can only pray for a full recovery. After discussing it with her, we felt it was important to share this story because houses can kill occupants through so many evil ways. Most homeowners are aware of the dangers posed by molds, and bacteria’s, but that’s not the limit of hazards that may surround you.

You are cocooned in your home like a baby in the womb, and just as an expectant mother taking toxins into her system can harm her baby, the systems that feed your home can harm you. Check your water supply for metals, toxins, fecal coliforms, and lead; especially if you have a well supplying your home or your piping is extremely old.

Don’t learn the hard way as my dear old friend has.

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  1. Steven Boorstein on

    Excellent article and great detective work! There are poisions everywhere, from the mercury fillings in your teeth to your well water, etc. This exemplifies the need to have your water tested regularly, and even if you don’t have well water you should be getting a water quality report from your MUA each year. For many years now my wife has made me filter our drinking water and I never thought it made much of a difference… but when I taste the unfiltered water I notice a definate “flavor.” By the way, pure water shouldn’t HAVE a “flavor”!
    Steven Boorstein
    Landlord Business Insider

  2. Yeah I find it ironic that people so vastly underestimate the poisons we are subjected to on a daily basis. I wont go into too much detail but we are being poisoned from many many sources. The first most important step to good health is avoiding partially hydrogenated oils, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup and most of all SWEETENERS! Aspartame is the most common sweetener and i known to cause a wide range of negative effects including cancer. Despite this fact people still consume it.

    And the simple fact that pesticides used on farms have to soak into the products they make which include fresh produce, milk and beef. Try to eat organic foods, avoid processed and fast foods and take supplements. Your B and C vitamins are very important, garlic is good and echanecia.

  3. Interesting how we see our home as the ultimate source of protection but yet if we look at it with such a blind eye it may end up being our downfall. Kind of scary to think about though that there are so many poisons out there that we just never think of because they come through sources that have never failed us before.

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