In my 1996 article on relocation I included a story from a woman named Tessa Lachman who was fortunate enough to make relocation and building a less-toxic house work very well:
I live on top of a mountain in the Blue Ridge–very clean air. My relocation has been very successful. I found a rural area with no industry and with little farming. I am on 20 acres, surrounded by another 30 acres of protected lands. I carefully chose and tested the materials for my house. I compromised on size, not materials. I kept the house very simple, using only a few materials, and the safest ones at that. The house consists of pure Portland cement, tile, a lot of glass, and some metals. No wood, no finishes, no paint. My body is at peace 24 hours a day in my house, and my health has greatly improved in the 3 years that I have been here.
Since relocation is such a major expense, you might instead want to do all you can to improve your present quarters. As I was reading through surveys from people who were trying one therapy after another, often at great expense and inconvenience, I was struck by the fact that many of them were still living with a gas stove in the kitchen or with hot-air gas heat. Others were relocating to the Southwest but moving into houses with hot-air gas heat. Many in the MCS community seem to have drifted quite far from the basic principles of Dr. Theron Randolph. In An Alternative Approach to Allergies, revised edition, 1989, published by Harper & Row, he wrote:
Indoor air pollution is particularly dangerous because exposure to it is so constant. Outdoor air pollution comes and goes; indoor pollution is ever-present, and thus its effects generally remain well hidden. . . .
At the first government conference on air pollution, held in 1962, [I stated that] in my clinical experience . . . indoor air pollution was eight to ten times more important as a source of chronic illness in susceptible people than was ambient air pollution. . . . And of the various materials found in the home, the gas kitchen range, I said, was easily the worst offender.
If a chemically susceptible person has a gas-fired heating system, he has to consider changing it, or changing houses, regardless of the immediate cost. The reason is that it is difficult for a susceptible person to remain in anything resembling good health if he is subjected to the fumes of such a system.
The warm-air furnace is [the type of furnace] most frequently implicated as the source of chronic illness. . . . Leaks in such systems are common. . . . When a chemically susceptible patient moves out of a home with such a furnace and into an ecologically sound environment, he often experiences an improvement in health.
Dr. Randolph also discussed in his book the phenomenon of “fried dust,” which undoubtedly contributes to the noxious odor from electric hot-air heating systems.
Following Dr. Randolph’s advice helped me very much. Twenty-two years ago I suddenly developed MCS at age 35 (after a bout with pneumonia) that manifested itself as migraines after exposure to cigarette smoke, diesel fumes, and caffeine and as arthritic pains that began one year when our oil furnace was started for the winter. After we replaced our oil furnace with an electric boiler, my arthritis disappeared and never returned. (The migraines quickly vanished when I avoided smoke, diesel, and caffeine.)