An expert in electromagnetic fields at Hydro-Québec advises against the use of certain radiant electric floors which could increase the risk of infant leukemia. <<As children are often laying and sitting on the floor, it is to be avoided, not recommended due to the doubts we have on this>>, declared Jan Erik Deadman, labour hygiene counsellor at the company. <<It would surprise me if Hydro-Québec recommended (these systems) in daycares.>>
This labour health doctor was reacting to the fact that certain of these heating systems, composed of an electric wire typically installed under a ceramic floor, emit a magnetic field measuring up to 100 milli gauss (mG0) at ground level. According to nine epidemiological studies, a chronic exposure to an average field of more than 4 mG doubles the risk of child leukemia. In 2002, this is what incited the International Center for Cancer Research, along with the World Health Organization, to class magnetic fields of 50-60 Hertz in Group 2B as ‘potentially cancer-causing’. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation in its Mechanical Equipment Guide for a Clean Interior Environment, that radiant electric floors <<can emit significant electrical and magnetic fields.>>
Four Cancers Targeted
The most solid proofs of noxious effects of electromagnetic fields come from epidemiological studies, explains Health Canada: <<The studies have led to suppositions of the existence of a weak positive association between being exposed to fields of 50-60Hz and leukemia, brain cancer, breast cancer and lung cancer.>> But we cannot exclude that other statistical, environmental or socio-economic factors may be responsible.
Also a researcher at the McGill Faculty of Medicine, Jan Erik Deadman is co-author of a historical study published last July. It concluded that female workers, whose average weekly exposure was at least 4mG during or within two years preceding their pregnancy, doubled their risk of having a child who will develop this type of blood cancer. Other studies concluded that chronic exposure to a field of 2mG doubled the risk in children.
Should owners of electrically heated floors disable their system or turn it off before entering a room? <<The risk is considered too weak and too uncertain to change heated floors in houses and daycares, analyzes Denis Gauvin, biologist at the Institut nationale de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) Must the population be informed? Yes. If people have the possibility of choosing a floor which exposes them less, all the better.>> Electromagnetic fields are composed of electrical fields produced by voltage (live wires) and magnetic fields from amperage (power consumed) They are measured with a multi meter which frequently acts as a voltmeter, gauss meter and radio frequency and microwave reader. The intensity of the field and the degree of human exposure diminish rapidly when moving away from the source, easy if the radiant system is in a ceiling but impossible in the case of a floor.
At one foot from a floor emitting 100mG at ground level, the field can measure 16mG, a level at which very brief daily exposures are, according to a recent California study (Li, 2002), associated with an increased risk of false labour. These fields are weaker in a house where electrical consumption is lower and if the wires are close together and laid out in parallel, their fields have a tendency to mutually cancel themselves out.
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What if the home you are planning to build could be your family home for the rest of your life? What if, with a little planning, your new home could adapt to meet the needs of your family and change as your family does?
That’s the idea behind FlexHousing. A FlexHouse is a home designed before construction begins to be user friendly to its occupants at all stages of their lives and to make future renovations easier and cheaper for the homeowner to complete. FlexHousing can eliminate the need to move from house to house as the requirements of your family change over time.
The first home for many couples is often referred to as a “starter” home, which is typically small and easy to maintain. Then, as children come along the first home is too small and that requires the costly and disruptive choice of moving. When the children are grown and on their own this second home becomes too large for only two people to take care of.
As the population ages, half of all homes in Canada will house people 55 yeas old or older by 2017. Also, with a declining population, fewer new homes will be built each year. So homes that are flexible will be in big demand. This flexibility not only is beneficial to the home, but if families don’t have the need to move, they stay in the neighbourhood longer, creating a stronger sense of community.
PRINCIPLES OF FLEXHOUSING
A FlexHouse isn’t a type of home style like a bungalow or two storey, it is the way it is designed prior to construction and is based on four principles.
• Healthy Housing
Adaptability: The home is designed to be renovated to suit changing needs.
A large bedroom can be made into two smaller rooms and used as either another bedroom or home office.
A space such as the basement can be renovated to become a separate apartment by roughing in plumbing for a kitchen and bathroom that will bring in extra income later on or be used by an aging relative.
Bathroom walls can be given extra strength during construction to allow for the installing of grab bars and other special items to assist less mobile residents.
Install counters and cabinets in the kitchen or bathroom that can be adjusted vertically on brackets or that can have sections that are lower so that people in a wheelchair can reach with them.
Building such features into a new home during initial construction saves time, money and inconvenience when changes are needed or desired down the road.