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Could Your Office be Creating a Health Hazard?



Photo by Bocephulon

More Common Today

The home office is more common today than ever. It offers busy professionals convenience and many money saving advantages over the traditional practice of driving into a conventional office. For some, the home office is better equipped than their commercial counterparts. But in this time of wireless connections, multiple computers, phones & other wireless devices as well as the wireless systems designed for home use, considerations need to be made to ensure that your home is kept safe from the hazards inherent with the amenities of our digital age.

Say What??

Hazards you ask? Yes, these modern day amenities come with a cost, more than the one that comes out of your pocket. The key is understanding the risk involved with each and deciding for yourself what level of risk you are willing to live with on a daily basis and what precautions you are going to take to make your environment safer and less toxic.

The Symptoms:

  • Ringing ears, memory loss, confusion, lethargy, difficulty sleeping-these are common symptoms of over exposure to EMF’s (electromagentic fields).
  • Continued exposure or high exposure can lead to cancer, brain tumors, ear cancer, leukemia, Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.

The Risk Factors:

  • Wireless Phones, Cell Phones; the dangers are real, including brain cancer, eye cancer, leukemia, depression, memory loss & difficulty sleeping. And the dangers of cell phone use are just beginning to be discovered and unveiled. The high concentration of these devices in most home offices increases the risk involved.
  • Computers, Monitors, WiFi systems; like cell and wireless phones, your office equipment emit radiation as do your clocks, TV’s, even your home appliances, putting your health at risk. The long hours you spend in close proximity to this equipment while behind your desk add up and can take their toll.
  • Faulty Wiring, Overloaded Circuits; improper wiring is more common than most people think. How many offices have you seen with extension cords plugged into extension cords, each with multi-outlets overloading the circuits? A fire hazard to be sure, not optimum for your health either.

What You Can Do:

  • Distance yourself. A home office is a great part of modern living. Keep your home healthy by planning out where you will be working so that it will not interfere with your home life and so that you can be most productive while at work. Locate your office in a room that is away from the sleeping areas of the home. This will not only separate the work space from the private spaces, but it will create distance from all of the electronic equipment you need to run your business. Your living areas, bedrooms in particular, need to be your sanctuary. Keep them as clear as possible to ensure they will support you and rejuvenate you. So please, no cell phone chargers on the nightstands…leave them in the office. A gaussmeter will easily measure the levels of magnetic fields in different areas of your home. Be sure to fully understand how to use and read the results of your gaussmeter. You can also hire a professional to assist you.
  • Limit your exposure to radiation by making better decisions. Keep your cell phone calls short. Choose a classic hard wired land line and use an “old fashioned” corded phone while in the office or at home to reduce your exposure. Those old school phones have the added benefit of not requiring electricity to operate, so chances are, in an emergency if your power goes out, the phone will still work. And rethink buying the kids a cell phone of their own-they are particularly vulnerable to damage from cell/wireless phones.
  • Use your desktop. If you use a laptop, avoid holding it on your lap. It has been connected to reproductive issues in both men and women and children should never use a laptop without a table. If you are not already using a LCD flatscreen, switch over now. They are a safer alternative to the old version.
  • Stay grounded. Make sure that you are not overloading your circuits. Use the appropriate surge protectors for your equipment and make sure they are grounded. An electrician can check your wiring with an electric field meter to determine if their are any problems with the electric fields in your home.
  • Shut down at night. Be sure to turn your equipment off when you finish for the day. Not only will you reduce your overall RF exposure, but you will save energy (and a few bucks on your bill) too!

Nickie is the founder of and She is a certified IBE Healthy Home Practitioner, Certified Usui Reiki Practitioner and Feng Shui Consultant. She has lived on both coasts (as well as in the gorgeous Rocky Mountains of Colorado) of the US and currently calls Los Angeles home. You can find her in plenty of spots in the online world and should you happen to catch her at home, she will probably make you something yummy!

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  1. Jonathan Dalton

    July 28, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    So … just by reading this on my full-size monitor on my desktop in a room with power cords, I’ve just taken how much time off of my life? 🙂

  2. Kathleen

    July 28, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Nickie, that’s a great post. My home office is much too alluring. People think I work 24 hours a day, but it’s really because it’s difficult to avoid stopping in when you’re passing by. I’ll double check the things you mentioned to make sure I’m not messing myself up any more than necessary!

  3. Chuck G

    July 28, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Interesting viewpoint, but I think the stress and pressure that agent put themselves under in a tough market like this is an order of magnitude more damaging to their health than all the radiation you’ll get in an entire Best Buy store.

    Just my two watts worth…

  4. Bill Lublin

    July 29, 2008 at 1:24 am

    Nickie: The greatest health hazard in my home office is that the huge pile of papers on my desk might fall on me and crush me. I’ve gotta get organized better 😉

  5. Rich Jacobson

    July 29, 2008 at 3:16 am

    Shutdown at night? But that’s when I do my best work!!!….I mean, seriously, it’s 2AM and I’m still typing away!

  6. Jim Gatos

    July 29, 2008 at 4:37 am

    AAAA-HAAA! Now I know why I’m so messed up!


    Good info!


  7. Irina Netchaev

    July 29, 2008 at 8:25 am

    I guess using a laptop could be a great birth control method. 🙂

  8. Vicki Moore

    July 29, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Nickie – Yikes. My office is like being in an airplane 10 or so hours a day. Air conditioning and the windows don’t open. I liked having my head in the sand. Now you’ve made me look at this again – dang it!

  9. Michelle Berry

    July 30, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    You mean I can’t sleep with my laptop under my pillow, cell phone in hand?

  10. Nickie Rothwell

    July 30, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Hi Jonathan, actually, your corded, desktop model is the better choice. It’s all these cool wireless versions that cause us the most risk and potential trouble.

    Hey Kathleen, do you mean you don’t work 24/7? 😉 And yes, obviously everyone here is part of the wired community, the key is evaluating and minimizing the health risks we expose ourselves to on a daily basis.

    Hi Chuck, no doubt stress can be a major contributor to health problems. You’re right, finding balance in all areas of life is what keeps us going strong.

    Hi Bill, perhaps a retaining wall for the office files might help 🙂

    Hi Rich, I think you are not the only one in the habit of burning the midnight oil. When I first decided to stop working in the wee hours it felt quite strange, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. It really is liberating once you get used to it. 🙂 Maybe try shutting down after your 2am posts, just for the sake of your good health.

    Jim, don’t worry-there’s still hope! 😉 And thank you!!

    Hi Irina-You’re so bad!

    Hi Vicki! I know, I was blown away myself when I started learning more about this. It probably won’t be long until our wireless devices come with a warning on the package much like cigarettes do now. Prudent avoidance is best. Just understanding the risks and limiting the amount of exposure you live with, especially while sleeping can really help.

    Hi Michelle, technically you could, but it would probably be uncomfortable 😉 Seriously, there are some of us that practically do! I have to admit, I have awoken with both at arm’s reach more than once. Not anymore. Unless I’m traveling, I do my best to banish the wireless during the night. Most people who do shut everything down at night, find they do indeed sleep better.

  11. Jennifer in Louisville

    August 1, 2008 at 6:45 am

    While I’ve not heard of that affliction previously, and I’ve had no medical data to back me up, I have always tried to limit my exposure to EMF by following some of the above guidelines. It just seemed to me that it could cause your body problems over the long haul. Glad to see I’m not super paranoid.

    Now, I just have to put on my foil hat to keep the government from tapping into my thoughts with their mind control devices. 😛 (just teasing on this last part)

  12. Nickie Rothwell

    August 1, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Hi Jennifer!

    No, you’re not paranoid, just wise. You know what they say about an ounce of prevention…

    If you’ve seen the movie, “Thank You For Smoking”, it makes you think about what may be behind the lack of information being provided for the public. And as with smoking, knowing the risks doesn’t mean everyone is going to choose to stop using; it is just that having the information available and being able to make an informed decision allows people to be in control of their choices.

    Oh, and the foil hat-definitely would make a statement! 😉

  13. Sue

    August 5, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    For me getting away from the computer is the hardest thing, bad for my health in that I can’t get any sleep! Its hard for me to break away from this darn computer at a civilized hour..usually up til 1 or 2 in the morning reading, blogging, etc. When I get back from showing houses, I look forward to hitting the computer again. Sounds like I’m not alone!

  14. Nickie Rothwell

    August 11, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    Hi Sue,

    I think making a commitment to shut down the computer at a certain hour would help you sleep better not only for the reasons mentioned here but might also help with the computer addiction issues 😉

  15. Jennifer Rathbun

    August 12, 2008 at 10:20 am

    I thought you were goin to talk about the fact that she was working at the couch. A think I do A LOT! I have a desk upstairs in my bedroom. Matthew and I also share his office which was a dining room. And yet, most days, I’m leaning over my coffee table. By the end of the day, my shoulder HURT!

    And I have a desk at the “office,” but everything I need is here at home. And I can do my laundry at the same time!

  16. Sue

    August 12, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    It is a computer addiction! I mentioned to a friend one night while out for dinner that I would come home and have to check my emails and do some work, etc…his response was that he felt it would spoil…undo the fun evening. I believe he was right. My computer is in the corner of my bedroom, so its not as if I can just keep the “office” door closed. I have to make some rules for myself.

  17. Nickie Rothwell

    August 14, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Hi Jennifer! I often work at the sofa as well, but I have a trick that saves the back. I keep folding trays around that I can pull out and then discreetly tuck away out of sight that are the perfect height for working in a really comfy spot. The extra bonus of working on those is not only are they portable, but it is an easy reminder to shut down when I’m done. And I’m with you, home offices are the best-where else can you work, do your home chores and prepare for your fun stuff at home all at the same time?

    Hi Sue! Definitely having your office in your bedroom can be a problem. It is the first thing you see in the morning and the last thing you look at in the evening. In addition to that, you have all that energy of work to do all around you while you’re trying to sleep when you really should be in the bedroom to rejuvenate and nurture yourself.

    If you have any way possible to relocate your office to another room, I think you will find the addiction easier to manage. You may be able to find a great spot in the living room where you can carve out a niche for yourself that won’t interfere with your main living area. If you have no other option, try adding a beautiful folding screen that you can place in front of your desk area so you can “close the doors” to your office at night. And yes, you’re right, setting office hours for yourself is a must! Feel free to call or email me if you want any ideas.

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Green Live & Work

Regenerating architecture: green building product innovations

(Green News) Sustainable design has evolved beyond robotics, and has tapped into the basics, using pre-historic methods: bacteria. Genius!





A Third Grade Teepee

Remembering back to third grade science class, about ten sticks bound together at the top with twine of some sort, and a little beansprout planted at the base of each pole, eventually became the coolest shelter this eight year old had ever seen. Seedlings wound their way up, tendril by tendril until their leaves reached just far enough to clasp and join, and create and fantastic teepee that was actually a food source, too! Talk about the ultimate in sustainability – but that was old school.


Making Something Out of Nothing

Enough about my blast from the past. I was seriously thrown into nostalgia when I thrust onto the path of this fantastic article by Gary Wollenhaupt earlier this week regarding some of the most inspirational green-building products I have heard about in quite sometime. It must have something to do with the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute’s Innovation Challenge and building products that seem to become something from nothing! Apparently these folks were up to the task!

So, maybe the little teepee which was representative of the sacred “three sisters” or corn, beans, and squash that the Native Americans utilized as their staple crops symbolized something else to me. The regeneration of soil, the regeneration of the land, and a regeneration of that happy little elementary school structure, covered in beans which became the perfect hiding spot.

Obviously, the teepee wasn’t innovative, but for this little kid, the shelter “appeared out of nowhere” once those leaves filled in. The Forbes article pulled together an arsenal of truly innovative products that are not only environmentally friendly, sustainably-minded products that will certainly turn many green-builders on their heads!

The Home that Regenerates Itself

Innovation comes in many different forms. Lots of great builders looking to build sustainable homes look towards energy efficiency in a hard-core way and building with products that take building to a new level; however, these innovators have gone and created building products that supposedly grow themselves, or are fire-retardant, or are -say what?- regenerating when they are broken? Oh, ok? This sounds like something out of the future, and we don’t even have our hoverboards yet!

Seriously though, it is amazing to think that there is a product made of a bacteria which will regenerate itself. Self-healing materials have been around for a while, but not necessarily for home building. Wollenhaupt noted that the”Bacteria engineered to thrive in dry climates is helping to create a concrete that can repair itself.

The bacteria are mixed into the concrete and release calcium carbonate, similar to limestone, as part of their waste process. The material fills in holes and cracks in the concrete, making it last longer and reducing maintenance costs.” As someone who is incredibly interested in developments like these, I am quite curious as to their durability and what the testing has been like for the products, but can’t wait to see what the future holds for green building products that bring us full circle! Fascinating, isn’t it?

Watch it Grow

It will be fascinating to see what happens when these homes are built out of these biologically and ecologically innovative building products, and if they will indeed withstand the test of time and do as they say they will. Take some time to view the entire roster of impressive applicants to the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, the California based non-profit who put on the event, check out their information, and applaud their achievements in green-building and design!

Now I want to go in the yard and build a little pole-bean teepee, and watch it grow. I don’t think my back yard is at the “coral-like” regenerating concrete bio-product level quite yet.

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Green Live & Work

Superadobe: super sustainable building phenomenon

Taking something that already had the power to be awesome and making it, well, super-powered, that is what one bright-eyed architect did with an age-old building concept. Let’s take a mini-adventure into the world of Superadobe, where a blending of concepts which are thousands of years old with some new ideas has created yet another buzz in the stratosphere of sustainability and green building.





Superadobe, I am Your Father

I believe it was Christopher Nolan who said “Batman and Superman are very different characters but they’re both iconic and elemental.” Either way you cut it, adobe is elemental, and adobe is nothing new; I make the comparison the Batman and Superman because they are both superheros, however different…

Adobe is also something nothing short of super. From the ancient Egyptians to the Anasazi Tribe, many cultures near and far have utilized the brilliant mixture of straw, soil, sand and water tamped together to create a sun-hardened earth house for shelter through the ages. These homes are sturdy, cool on the inside in the heat of the Sun, and warm on the inside during cool nights.

It is quite possibly some of the most amazing architecture that we can find when we look at the history of our progression of architecture, next to the great pyramids and cliff dwellings. Let’s face it, in many parts of the world, because of its magical simplicity, adobe is, after caves, how humans survived the elements.

Superadobe is Born Powerful

In the present, an Iranian born architect, Nader Khalili, has discovered, well- I say present, but it was some twenty plus years ago- how to perfect the concept of adobe and bring it forward into the new age. Through modification of the structural processing of the staging of the adobe, Khalili has managed to create a product and process that he has coined as Superadobe. Khalili has said that “Superadobe is an adobe that is stretched from history into the new century. It is like an umbilical cord connecting the traditional with the future adobe world.” He has an interesting take on adobe and its re-emergence to the “new world” through his superadobe product.

Moon-dust or Sand. Take Your Pick – it is Still Super.

What this really means is that his process of taking long tube-like bags, usually made of sturdy polypropylene or sometimes straight-up burlap, and filling them with sand, or rice or any sort of fill, then creating a trench for the foundation, and forming the frame out of these tubes which are filled with the “fill of choice” and then tamped down, either by hand or with a pneumatic tamper. As the foundation is created, windows can be created by having voids not filled, or cut out after the fact. A huge part of superadobe, beyond the tubular filled bags of soil or the like is the barbed wire which reinforces the shape of the buildings, which are generally a coil of these reinforced tubes which ultimately form a beehive shape. There have been extensive experiments with the concept of superadobe, or the earthbag building concept, which Khalili first came up with after attending a symposium at NASA in 1984 where he was trying to figure out who to build structures on the moon! Imagine, bags full of moondust. That sort of sounds magical, or super! Doesn’t it. Just agree. It does.


From the Moon to Your Backyard it seems that not even Kryptonite will take  this stuff down! Superadobe is one sturdy building concept. It is aerodynamic, just as its predecessor, just regular old adobe is. However; with the beehive and or rounded edges that it tends to take on, it can survive hurricane force gales. A superadobe home or building can be built by unskilled labors in a matter of days by the resources available on site, either of the sandbags, or of the specific tubing and barbed wire. The buildings are sturdy, sustainable, cost effective and can be built in nearly all elements. As a builder, one would look to superadobe from the cost effective standpoint for a client who is thinking about passive solar design; it tends to stay cooler during the day in those hot climates, and warm in the evenings in cold climates. The stuccoed exterior is incredibly low maintenance and provides the client for an exceptional opportunity for reduction in utility bills, or for even being off the grid, if they so desire. New offices looking for an interesting, cost effective and sustainable building concept, could certainly look at superadobe as an option. The unique building structure of the circular and hive-like shapes lend towards something new and different. If you want to stand out from the crowd, be sustainable, and possibly have a quick build, superadobe could be for you.  It From the moon to Costa Rica and everything in between, superadobe is a sustainable building concept that has green building aficionados looking towards the sun. It’s a bird, it’s a plane. No. It’s superadobe.

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Green Live & Work

GreenSpur: sustainable construction, reclaimed materials

GreenSpur Unveils their first OneNest Project home built in Virginia, a sustainable construction project that could be duplicated across the world.



sustainable construction

sustainable construction

One of a kind sustainable construction project

This weekend was full of anticipation and completed, what could be called “full-circle-excitement come to fruition” for those who have been keeping tabs on the GreenSpur construction team. Not so long ago, I brought word to you about the incredible opportunity that Mark Turner and his concept team were working on regarding a fully sustainable, green-built home constructed of Structurally Insulated Panels (SIPS) and reclaimed materials.

This project is the first of its kind and is hopefully going to be one of many that will be replicated internationally as a model of sustainable construction that meets the needs of a true nest.

Flying into the Nest

Minimalism, with a true rustic elegance is what you find peering out at you as you make your way up the steep, curving drive to the Delaplane OneNest home set atop a perfect hill overlooking the foothills of the Shenandoah mountains. It is almost as if someone has called in the gentle fog to hover just at the top of the treeline for intrigue, mystery and sultry ambiance to pull you into the site. Recall those mystical tendrils of smoke that lure… that is what pulls you here…to something new and exciting.

Before you get to the site, strategically placed communal fire pits with site-found logs are hissing, popping and generating that delightful campfire smell and then there is that house. With the elevation of a classic barn marrying a contemporary sanctuary, OneNest sits there among newly planted native river-birch trees, nestled in yet peeking out. The patina of the tin a deliberate match to the brick-red rust of the seamed and painted hardi-plank that covers the SIPS.

The standing seam metal roof line is a delicate yet masculine balance to the reclaimed history that is woven into this home through the use of wood paneling straight from past cabin quarters of the John Marshall property. The facade wouldn’t be complete without the mirror image of floor to ceiling windows flanking a steeple like fireplace that is masoned in stone harvested directly from the site. Usable porches galore. Panoramic views of the fog rolling on and on across the pits and valleys of the foothills while the cows come home. A matching barn is just beyond the main house that has an awning wide enough for a classic riding tractor. Classic is right. This is just the exterior.

Getting Cozy on the inside

Delivering more inside, OneNest’s vaulted ceilings are welcoming and open, leaving one to be baffled by the thought that this space is one-thousand square feet. It could be thousands more; the trompe l’oeil affect of the grande windows to the view beyond pulls the eye out and into the distance. The living room has very functional usable built-ins and is open to the stunning kitchen with a wonderful amount of storage. The fantastic use of counterbalanced Connecticut-style pull down lanterns is just one more ‘trick of the eye’ and fun for the gorgeous space and means to draw the eye up to the loft space above which is the master suite.

Past the kitchen, a full bath, well appointed and glowing is to the left, and storage to the right. Beyond that, windows, again floor to ceiling brighten the space and pull in the outdoors while highlighting the spiral staircases to go up and up into the nest. Before heading up, a nosy poke into the crawl space reveals some more smart design, wine-cellar in the crawl built from galvanized metal buckets and wine-racks; a good use of space in an otherwise unusable crawl!

The second floor is home to the lofted main bedroom, which has a lovely view of the great wide yonder and can be conveniently enclosed with thoughtful curtains; wrapped around the far right of the bedroom is a little nook- great for reading, a dog-friend or maybe some lovely indoor plants for creating a nice indoor air quality. The master spa-bath is impeccable with an egg-shaped soaker tub, walk-in shower complete with rain head and well, it is simple, yet stunning. Plus, there is a fireplace above the bath. Nice… I

n the central stairwell, up once again, the next level houses the guest room with incredibly functional use of space, reclaimed wood and a sumptuous bathroom which is just incredibly well done. This OneNest space is an unbelievable four stories of beautiful, reclaimed, green living space built to help the owner truly nest in, living in what they need.

sustainable construction

sustainable construction

sustainable construction

sustainable construction

sustainable construction

Nesting as a Trend

Why OneNest? Business partner, Arian Lewis, stated “this is something that can be replicated in any country across the world. I’m currently talking with contacts in Malaysia to see about using our concept houses there.”

Lewis is the partner based out of the Oxford England team, who has been working on outreach to developing nations. These homes can be built anywhere. They are sustainable and don’t have to take up a lot of space or resources. Minimal or luxury finishes can be put into them and the product can be built an a relatively small amount of time.

Mark Turner, the brainchild behind GreenSpur and the OneNest project, said when asked what the biggest take away should be for the project, “Well, this was absolutely a labor of love and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I wanted to do something different that other builders weren’t doing and that would change the way things were being built in the construction industry.” He has proved it once before when he built a net-zero house on Capitol Hill, now he has done it again with the OneNest project’s first completed home, built in 100 days in Delaplane, VA.

Turner reminds us all that “OneNest is the context of everything in one world- a natural resting place.” Mark has also been quoted, “When I think about designing and building PLACE, I am inspired by Stegner’s quote, ‘There it was, there it is, the PLACE where during the best of our lives friendship had its home and happiness its headquarters.’ This 1000 SF OneNest Project is our team’s best attempt to capture this spirit. We are using radical approaches in design, materials and building science to capture that simple notion that we all universally yearn for: ‘happiness its headquarters.'” I love this about this team, they are so grounded in their since of duty to balance and harmony with nature, life and the elements.

What is Next for OneNest

Looking at their mission, Delaplane was a lovely place to select for the first part of this project’s journey. Just off of John Marshall Highway in historic wine country, this may be an idealistic “happiness headquarters.” The first OneNest will be open for extended stays as well as events for the next six months to continue to the conversation within the community and beyond about this intriguing and passionate design and building concept.

Where do you think we’ll see more of these beautiful, sustainable creations across the States and internationally? Start the conversation by making the visit.

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