I used to think I just had a very bad dust mite allergy. However, after moving Dog Breed Info Center(R) and my pack out of my home office to an industrial building office I discovered that while the little mites are reasonably creepy enough to blame, it was not those little buggers that would make me cough. The office area was empty accept for the Dog Breed Info Center(R) crew, so I had the opportunity to dissect, in a sense, a building to figure out just what was beating me up.
We removed all carpeting, painted the concrete floors, painted the walls, cleaned and cleaned some more, did mold treatments, used a boat load of allergy spray, bought plants, set up more HEPA filters than the space required and had an exterminator out to treat the entire building. I even washed the dog beds weekly keeping them nice and clean.
Carpets removed, floors being painted
One of the large HEPA filters we had set up. I have since discovered that a lot of HEPA filters actually have fiberglass filters in them. I looked into it because it seemed the more filters I added to my home and office the worse my lungs felt. When I read they contained glass fiber filters I was shocked! Trying to remove glass with glass was only blowing new glass into the air.
Everyone else around me claimed they felt nothing, while I cough my brains out with a tight chest, eyes burning, my skin was numb, throat would hurt, I would get dizzy, ears would often ring, and my face even started to break out in zits. I could not think straight while I was in that building. I would have thought I was nuts, but the dogs, they felt it, too. As soon as I would open the door to the building they would start to sneeze, over and over and over again.
We would run through the halls to the DBIC office where we would open windows blowing in fresh air with fans. I had a mission to figure out why that building would give me ‘sick building syndrome’ symptoms. Sick building syndrome is when a building makes people sick and they often feel better when they leave, only to feel worse when they return.
After a long process of trial and elimination we narrowed it down to fiberglass insulation. It was above the ceiling panels, behind a lot of the walls and the ducts were lined with it on the INSIDE with air blowing past it.
As it was being removed I started paying attention to when I felt it and the reactions of the dogs. They all knew, but it was Spencer the Pit Bull that would often turn and look at me in a way that I felt he not only knew, he knew that I knew. The silent communication of the dog. I would often find myself saying, “I know boy, it’s bad in here.". I felt like we had a pact, we knew and felt something that the others did not. It was the dogs that kept reminding me that I was not insane.
If a person spends a lot of time in an indoor area that has microscopic fiberglass particles in the air it lands on their body, hair and clothes and they carry it with them, spreading it around as they walk near air currents that blow it back off of them. If they don’t shower at night they get it on their pillow, on their couch, in their car. Everywhere. One has to get away from it in order to notice when the air is better. I have become very in-tune to it. The more I get away from it, the more I can feel it when I get near it again. The dogs will walk up to some people and begin to sneeze over and over as they say ‘hello”, often confirming what I was already sensing, that the particular person has fiberglass particles on them. Not only can I feel it, so can the dogs. I do not think I have any kind of special power, it just happens to be an irritant that my body rejects.
I have always respected the abilities of the dog and this has just strengthened that respect. When one gets on the level of truly understanding the language of the dog, how they think and what they are saying, its rather remarkable and I am not just talking about their heightened senses, but their entire way of life.
You can read more about the whole ordeal at my personal website, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), Fiberglass Awareness.