Finding a Home: 7 Environmental Factors to Keep in Mind

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When we made the change from northern to southern Utah, we looked forward to the potential of having a “safe” home where our family could recover and heal from our mold exposure in our previous home.  Although it doesn’t always take a lot of time for a person’s body to be overwhelmed by mold toxins, it seems to take awhile, and even years, to come to a place of recovery.

Andrea Fabry writes about her personal experience with “getting her life back” in this blog post.  One of the comments that she makes is “For me, recovery has been more about relinquishment than restoration.”  

For me, recovery has been more about relinquishment than restoration.” -Andrea Fabry

We’ve relinquished a lot.  It’s hard to accept that maybe life will never be what we would prefer.  But, we know that nothing in life is perfect, and God can still make use of us (maybe even more so) despite our weaknesses and brokenness.

Our current living situation is one that I have been meaning to share, and that will have to be another blog post for another day.  The bottom line is we are renting a townhouse in a city that is a bit less-than-perfect, but again — perfection doesn’t exist in this world, so we are making do the best we can with where we are. 🙂

When we moved in, we had a discussion with the landlord about how we weren’t sure if we were going to stay.  Everything in life was so up in the air that we weren’t sure what type of employment my husband was going to be involved in — no details were hammered out, but we knew that we needed a place to land that had cleaner air than where we had come from.

So there were questions.  What if we have to move out early?  What if this place doesn’t work for us and I totally go downhill again?  Where will we go then? What are the unknowns of renting a townhouse (a first for us) as far as outdoor pollution from neighbors, etc.?

It’s been a bumpy ride.  We moved in March and physically things flared a bit but then smoothed out.  Then we got to the point where we had to turn on the air conditioning.  Yikes.  Major flare of symptoms.  But our area gets up to 115° in the summer time, so A/C is a necessity.  Throughout the summer I spent a lot of time in the sun and that seemed to help overall (and/or I just accepted having to deal with more discomfort, migraines, pain, etc.).  Then the weather started to really cool off.

A lot of people with chronic health issues see a major flare in symptoms in the fall.  Although there is no reason for this per se in medical literature, western medicine has taken a small stab at it by labeling depression and fatigue of the winter months as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.  But the problem is that so many of the symptoms endured by the “Chronic Fatigue”, or “Lyme Disease” or “Mold Affected” community go so far beyond just a little extra tiredness, depression, or suicidal ideation that it seems there must be more going on here than just a lack of sunlight leading to a few extra yawns.

Erik Johnson is a mold avoider who came upon the subject of avoidance as his own health deteriorated due to a “mystery illness” that happened around Lake Tahoe in the mid-1980’s.  He has spent the last 30 years attempting to bring awareness to the problem with toxic mold to the medical community.  He calls this phenomenon of feeling terrible – sometimes to the point of being bedridden – in the fall as being the “November Factor“.  Erik relates this worsening of symptoms directly to the amount of mycotoxins from mold in a person’s environment.  It has been shown anecdotally that once a mold-affected person is in a completely clean environment and is able to start healing, they usually have a huge improvement in symptoms during this time in the fall that is usually a set-back, sometimes to the point of being unaffected by it altogether.

So, back to our present situation.  My symptoms have ramped up again.  I know that our environment is playing a part in that.  There are two areas in our house, where, if torn into, I am 95% sure there would be hidden mold (and my past track record of knowing where it is, is pretty accurate…. unfortunately, I am not always an immediate reactor, so it may take some time to figure out exact location issues).

We were initially hoping that we would be able to find a lot to buy and build a safe home here.  But, real estate in Utah has pretty much made that impossible in the immediate area.  Even buying isn’t looking realistic because we just can’t buy an older home again.  And newer ones are built so shoddily (generally speaking, whether it be construction methods or materials used) that it seems like they deteriorate and have moisture issues very quickly.

A realtor stopped by our townhouse yesterday, soliciting business.

I tend to have a mental debate with myself in these situations.

As the person at my door is talking, I wonder: do I hint at some of the specifications that we would need and see how quickly their eyes glaze over, or just politely smile, nod, take their info, and shut the door?

I did hint at a few with this guy.  He seemed nice and willing to absorb a bit of information. I didn’t give him anything this extensive, but here are a few of the “outdoor location” items that we look for when considering a place to live, in no particular order, and this certainly isn’t exhaustive:

      1. Distance from cell phone towers and neighbor’s WiFi: It is becoming increasingly hard to avoid cell tower and WiFi radiation.  I am quite concerned about the coming roll-out of 5G towers that will literally be changing our environment into a “toxic soup” of nnEMF (non-native electromagnetic field) radiation and pulsed radiofrequency radiation (RFR) which is damaging on so many levels, but the most alarming is the ability it has to alter DNA.
      2. Valley vs. hilltop: Here in Utah elevation vary dramatically.  Overall, a lot of toxins tend to settle in lower-lying areas.  Our town has an issue with sewer toxins that settle in little valleys, and the toxic smell is especially noticeable on summer nights. So, the higher, the better.  We are at an altitude of about 2,500-3,000 ft with a number of peaks and valleys in our geographical landscape.
      3. Toxic waste locations:  This would include things like the local landfill, and Superfund Sites, where there is known or threatened release of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants. (View a map here.)
      4. Water: Bodies of water can have algae blooms or cyanobacteria.  Cyanobacteria has been studied and speculated to cause Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
      5. Proximity to industry: Factories, oil refineries, power plants, and the like are huge polluters.  We open the windows as much as possible to allow fresh air to come inside, and this just isn’t possible – or at least doesn’t accomplish our goal – if we live near toxic polluters.
      6. Agriculture: Sarah and I grew up in the Midwest, and information is now appearing about the toxic effects of Glyphosate.  I do not underestimate the effect that carcinogenic toxins like pesticides and herbicides have on our health, especially if we have impaired detoxification systems to begin with.  It’s our goal to avoid living near fields and places that will be heavily sprayed by these toxic chemicals.
      7. Fracking: Fracking is the process of injecting water, sand, and chemicals into the ground in order to force oil to the head of an oil well.  It can be dangerous to your health to live in a high-fracking area.  Respiratory and nervous system problems, birth defects, blood disorders, and cancer are some of the problems seen in areas where fracking is prevalent.

My views on indoor and outdoor pollution have changed so much and continue to morph as I learn more about the damage that both of these cause to our bodies.  The world can look like a pretty scary place.  But, we can use this information to equip ourselves to be able to make the most wise choice available to us.  We can’t just make the toxic and bad go away (although I wish we could), but we can try our hardest to practice resilience in a toxic world.


  1. One of my sons tends to get upper respiratory effects more frequently than the rest of us. I think weather change is one reason. I’ve noticed that since I’ve changed my eating (lots more eggs, less sugar) I seem to have a stronger immune system.

  2. We are looking to buy a new home in the spring, so this was such a timely post! You mentioned many things I’ve never considered, but I appreciate the advice and will refer back to this post when it is time for us to begin searching!

  3. I know a lot of people who have been affected by mold. Once it’s in a home, even with cleaning, the spores remain! Professional help is a must, but it’s cost prohibitive!
    I hope you get better and find a safe place to live!

  4. This is interesting. We lived in a mild infested house when I was about 11-14 yrs old. During that time I developed sever asthma and repeated lung infections. I’m certain it was the mold. I got better when we moved to a house that didn’t have mold. 4 years later, my college dorm had mold problems and I got very sick again. These problems have followed me and even (I believe) have made it problematic to eat certain foods (like vinegar and fermented food).

  5. We have some friends who are dealing with mold in their apartment right now. Hope you all are able to find a safe place to live where you can recover and heal.


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