Develops skills to evaluate, describe and explain how physical characteristics of a building and its surrounds have an impact upon human health. This course builds on Healthy Buildings I, but can also stand alone as it covers such topics as impact and the macro-environment.

Explore how Your Environment Impacts Upon Health

A course for:

  • Environmental Consultants
  • Health Professionals
  • Landscapers and builders

This course is divided into eight lessons as follows:.


  1. Environmental Impacts On Buildings
  2. Chemicals
  3. Building Surrounds
  4. Furnishings
  5. Finishes
  6. Pesticides & Alternatives
  7. Managing Interior Environments
  8. Consulting


  • Explain the impact of the macro-environment (location) on health.
  • Explain the impact of building surrounds, including a garden, on the interior environmental conditions.
  • Choose interior furnishings which are not likely to damage human health.
  • Explain the health implications of using different types of finishes, including sealers, paints, preservatives and stains.
  • Explain the health implications of using alternative methods of pest control inside buildings.
  • Plan health conscious management systems of interior environments.


  • Explain how proximity to different bodies of water can affect human health, including: *Sea/Ocean *Freshwater lakes *A river *Ground water.
  • Explain how different aspects of prevailing weather patterns may influence house design in different regions, including: *temperature *rainfall *winds *day length.
  • Explain in a summary, how proximity to electromagnetic radiation may impact on health.
  • Explain in a summary, how proximity to different types of pollution can impact on health inside a dwelling.
  • Compare the impact of different garden treatments upon temperature inside buildings, including: -tall trees -lawn -paving -mulched surfaces -climbers on walls.
  • Explain how different garden design decisions can affect ventilation in a house, including: *earth shaping *planting *constructions *water features.
  • Compare the affect different garden components on light inside a building, including: *Plant types *How plants are grouped *Walls *Topography *Pergolas.
  • Explain how the visual characteristics of two different gardens influence the inside environment of a building.
  • Analyse two different gardens for the impact they have on buildings they surround.
  • Compare health aspects of different materials used for furnishings including: -metals -plastics -timbers -upholstery -curtains.
  • Compare health aspects of different floor coverings including: -tiles -carpets -vinyl -cork -slate -timber.
  • Explain health aspects of different electrical appliances including: -televisions -computers -refrigerators -microwaves -heaters -air conditioners -ovens.
  • Evaluate the furnishings in a building inspected by the learner, to determine recommended changes to improve building habitability.
  • Compare the health affects of different types of finishes including: sealers, paints, stains, preservatives and varnishes.
  • Compile a resource directory of ten sources of healthy alternatives to traditional finishes.
  • Describe the characteristics of three different specific products which are healthy alternatives to traditional paints and finishes.
  • Explain the toxic affects of ten different pesticides commonly used in buildings, both during and after construction.
  • List alternative "healthier" methods of controlling pests in buildings, including: -rodents -ants -termites -flies -cockroaches.
  • Develop a detailed pest control strategy for a building, in the learners locality, which includes: -structural treatments during and post construction
    -preventative measures for anticipated problems
    -eradication measures for existing problems.
  • Explain issues of building usage which can impact on health with respect to different factors including: -number of people -electricity -windows and doors -cooking -smoking -curtains -hygiene.
  • Analyse the way two specific buildings including a home and a workplace are used; to determine health risk factors in that use.
  • Recommend guidelines to the way in which different buildings, including an office, and a workplace, are used, to minimise negative impacts upon health.

Duration:   100 hours

Electricity Can Be Hazardous if Not Properly Used

The human body creates and uses electrical impulses in its normal functioning. These impulses control virtually every function of the body from the beating of the heart to the digestion of food.  Electro Magnetic Radiation (EMR) (also referred to as Electromagnetic Fields – EMF) outside of but near to the body can interfere with the natural electrical impulses taking place in the body. This in turn can disrupt "normal" bodily functions, and contribute toward ill health.  EMR occurs everywhere, both in natural environments, and in man made environments. A healthy building should aim to minimise the effects of EMR by:

  1. Avoiding building in places where EMR levels are (or are likely to become) unacceptable;
  2. Minimising the creation of EMR through use of appliances, electrical wiring, etc.

EMR and Health
EMR are self propagating waves in matter or a vacuum.   EMR is a spectrum of different wave lengths.  Radio waves are the longest, while gamma rays are the shortest.  This spectrum can be split into ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation.  Ionizing radiation means that the waves are energetic enough to cause an electron to detach from the atoms, thus causing them to be ionized.  Radiation with short wave lengths such as x-rays, gamma rays and high frequency ultraviolet light are ionizing.  Long wave lengths such as radio, microwave, visible light and infra red are non-ionizing.

Ionizing radiation is known to cause radiation sickness, cancer, genetic damage, tumours and skin burns.

Non-ionizing radiation also has biological effects such as the effect of Ultraviolet radiation on skin (sunburn); lasers and far infrared on eyes and microwave and radio waves on the body can cause heating.

Power lines are a course of low frequency radio waves (wavelength > 3km), these are known to have effects including creating a charge on the body surface and disturbance of nerve & muscle responses.  

Conflicting Research
Nancy Wertheimer's mid 1970's study found that "the homes of children who developed cancer were found unduly often near electric lines carrying high currents". This work was later accompanied by studies by Dr. Lennert Tomenius (1982) and Dr. David Savitz (1986) both on electric affects on humans.

All abnormal man-made electro-magnetic fields (EMFs), says Robert Becker MD, regardless of their frequencies, produce the same biological effects. These can have deleterious effects on growing and dividing cells (which can lead to cancer), embryonic abnormalities, neurochemical and genetical alterations, changes in biological cycles and stress-medicated immune-system dysfunction.

On a brighter note, researchers have identified that correct usage of electromagnetic fields, especially low-strength EMFs, may be beneficial to our health. Experiments have shown under strict laboratory conditions that inhibition of cancer cells growth was observed. Additionally cells were able to be 'dedifferentiated' ie. converted into another cell.

Natural sources of EMR include:

  • The sun – light spectrum including ultraviolet
  • Cosmic Rays 
  • Lightning – radio waves
  • Radiation from the ground of uranium, thorium and potassium-40
  • Deposits of magnetic, radioactive materials
  • Radon – atmospheric gas 

Man Made sources of EMR can include:

  • Electrical wiring in house (particularly around the fuse box)
  • Wiring in the home
  • Water pipes near electrical wiring
  • Electrical appliances
  • Power lines (overhead, underground, railway, etc)
  • Machinery
  • Batteries
  • Microwaves